CONVERSE — Goals have been awfully hard to come by for opponents of the Oak Hill boys soccer team this season.
After giving up two goals at Huntington North in a draw on Aug. 20, the Class 2A 10th-ranked Golden Eagles have allowed just two more in eight matches since.
With its 4-0 win over Manchester on Monday, Oak Hill recorded its seventh shutout of the season, third in a row and sixth in the last seven matches.
Oak Hill’s stinginess is much more than just being stout in the back end. A plethora of skilled players through the midfield and up front are controlling possession, creating opportunities and putting the ball in the net.
The Eagles looked like a finely tuned machine in their win over the visiting Squires.
“I was really pleased with how we played. Manchester has always had a really good team,” said Oak Hill coach Joel Garverick. “They’ve got a lot of young guys this year, but young guys that play really hard.
“I was impressed with our level of focus, and in the second half at least, our level of execution,” Garverick continued. “I thought we controlled the game in the way that we want to control the game and we did some of the things we’ve been working on lately. It’s good to get another quality win.”
Oak Hill (10-0-1) spent much of the first half in front of Manchester’s net, firing off 12 shots, only four on goal, but many just over the crossbar. The Squires attempted only three shots during the opening 40 minutes, and only two required attention by Eagles’ keeper Seth O’Blenis.
Still, the game remained scoreless for nearly 35 minutes, but Evan Pearce created a wide-open look for Dalian Leach, who blasted it past Squire keeper Dillon Gish for the only goal of the first half.
“One of the goals of our team is to get the ball in good areas to create good opportunities,” Garverick said. “I thought we did that pretty well in the first half tonight then that final finish was just lacking a little bit. Dalian had been out the past couple games injured so he was a little bit rusty coming back.”
Manchester made it tougher for Oak Hill to find good scoring chances in the second half, and it remained a one-goal differential for over 25 minutes.
However, the Golden Eagles scored three goals in just over six minutes to put away the game.
First, Clayton Macy scored his fourth goal of the season off a Pearce assist with 14:59 remaining, giving Oak Hill some insurance.
A little over four minutes had elapsed when center defensive back Hank VanBibber collected a loose ball in front of the net after an Oak Hill corner kick and scored the second goal of his career, one that was particularly pleasing to his coach.
“Hank works really hard. He’s a great leader,” Garverick said. “As a center back myself, it always puts a smile on my face to be able see a center back score a goal. That was really cool to see.”
Less than three minutes later, Leach scored again, his 15th goal of the season, with Pearce picking up his third assist of the contest.
Any rust Leach might have had from missing Oak Hill’s two previous games was well polished by the end, and the Eagles might be better off in the long run by gaining some experience without their most lethal scorer on the pitch.
“Our chemistry is continuing to get better,” Garverick said. “You never want to see anybody miss time, but one of the really big positives we were able to take away is that Evan started to emerge. We knew he would at some point, but he’s really started to emerge as not only somebody who can score goals, but also somebody who can make plays happen and really help us to click.
“Now that Dalian is back, it’s an even better relationship between those two.”
Manchester (6-6-1) finished the match with five shots on goal, all stopped by O’Blenis, while Gish was credited with 16 saves in net for the Squires.
Squires coach Dave McKee was encouraged by the effort his side gave against the Golden Eagles.
“We’re getting better every week. It’s a young team,” McKee said. “We hung with them. There was five minutes in the second half we took out a lot of our defense and midfield and put some young guys in there and they got three on us. Oak Hill is a good team. They’re a classy team. Just a great, great program.
“They’re well disciplined. They don’t get too excited and run out of their positions,” he added about Oak Hill. “If someone runs out of their position, there is someone else there to cover that. Just a good team all around.”
Oak Hill is off until Monday when it hosts Western at 5:30 p.m.
Manchester hosts Lakeland Christian on Sept. 22 at 5 p.m.
Area Roundup Boys tennis
Marion 5, Anderson 0The Giants improved to 11-1 and 4-0 in North Central Conference play by sweeping the visiting Indians.
Vikram Oddiraju (No. 1 singles), Jack Fauser (No. 2) and Alex Spitzer (No. 3) all captured 6-0, 6-0 wins for the Giants. Soren Bruehler and Elijah Maki won 6-4, 7-6 (7-1) at No. 1 doubles while Clayton Drook and Ryan Sebastian won 6-1, 6-2 at No. 2.
Marion won the JV match 3-0. Ryan Spitzer and Daniel Terhune each won a singles set 6-0, then teamed up to win 6-2 at doubles.
Marion will face either Lafayette Jeff or Kokomo in the NCC semifinals Saturday in Lafayette.
Mississinewa 4, Alexandria 1The Indians moved another step closer to defending their Central Indiana Conference championship with the win at Alexandria on Monday.
John Oliver won 6-2, 6-0 at No. 1 singles, Ethan Sample took a 6-1, 6-1 win at No. 2 and Hayden Rowley captured No. 3, 6-0, 6-0. Riley Fuqua and Ryan Scott also won 6-0, 6-0 at No. 1 doubles while Kannen Smith and Aiden Signor dropped a 4-6, 6-0, 6-2 decision at No. 2 doubles.
Mississinewa (12-4, 3-0 in CIC) hosts Elwood on Wednesday.
Tipton 5, Mississinewa 1No details were reported.
Mississinewa (1-6-1) hosts Blackford on Saturday at noon.
Oak Hill 194, Mississinewa 201Hope Mygrant fired 39 to earn medalist honors and lead the Eagles past the Indians.
Holly Gillespie added a 48, Bailey Dewitt had 51, Abby Malott shot 56, Savanna Saylor had 57 and Jaycie Pearce had 58 for Oak Hill.
Mississinewa’s scores weren’t reported.
Both the Indians and Golden Eagles compete in the Eastbrook Sectional Saturday at 9 a.m.
Giants compete at NCCBayley Grieve shot 108 for the Giants in the NCC tourney at Trophy Club in Lebanon on Monday.
Richmond (365) won the team championship over Lafayette Jeff (389) and Harrison (391).