XENIA — Throughout the week leading up to Tuesday’s game, Yellow Springs remembered only one team beat them in the regular season a year ago.
That motivation powered the Bulldogs to a statement win on Tuesday as they defeated Legacy Christian 5-3 on the road in league play to avenge last year’s defeat to the Knights.
It also snapped a 31-game unbeaten streak for LCA in regular season play.
“This game was going to be crucial and very important for us,” Sam Miller said. “It’s been on our minds all week and we really wanted this one.”
LCA won last year’s meeting on a goal scored in the final minutes of the match to help them overcome a two-goal deficit. Yellow Springs again got up two goals in Tuesday’s meeting, but not before LCA jumped out a 1-0 lead less than five minutes after kickoff.
Play was back and forth for most of the half, but things quickly escalated in the Bulldogs favor from mishandled balls and a fortunate bounce off the crossbar before halftime put them 3-1 in front.
“We knew we were not going to shut them out,” Miller said. “We had to get our mindset back in it fast because we thought this was going to be a high scoring game. If we just let up after that first goal, this would have been a whole different game.”
It led to a stressful start to the second half with the Knights peppering the net and forcing Antonio Chaiten to make four saves before a frantic final 20 minutes closed out the win.
With 15:29 remaining Yellow Springs went up 4-1 on a breakaway goal for Landon Harris, but LCA answered 11 seconds later when Jacob Honnold fired a ball across the net into the upper left corner.
The Knights tried to keep the Bulldogs playing on its heels over the next few minutes until Joseph Rutan received a red card with just over 12 minutes left that put the Knights a man down for the remainder of the match. It was the third card of the match issued to LCA after yellows were given to Dillon Campbell and head coach Joe McCaskey.
Only 26 seconds after play resumed from the red card, Miller was able to dribble around the keeper and scored his second goal of the night to put Yellow Springs up by three again.
LCA got one back with 4:18 remaining and continued to try to force the issue. Parker Burke, the leading scorer in the Metro Buckeye Conference, found an opportunity to nearly recreate his spectacular winning goal from last season’s meeting from more than 30 yards out but this attempt sailed over the net to epitomize he and his team’s struggles.
“Our goal was to shut out Parker,” Yellow Springs head coach Ben VanAusdal said. “Parker is unbelievable and he’s got my player of the year vote as there’s no one better than him in this area. My goal to the boys was to shut him out and we felt if we did that then we would win.”
“We knew Parker is an incredible player,” Miller said. “Shout out to Issac [Grushon] for locking him up.”
Grushon also tied the match at one before Eli Matteson and Miller’s first goal got their team the lead. Rutan scored the game’s opening goal and Robby Geredes had the final one for LCA.
The last regular season loss by the Knights was to Valley View on Sept. 20, 2021. The team had gone 30-0-1 since that game with its only losses coming in postseason tournament play. Legacy Christian came into the match having outscored its opponents by 29 goals in its first seven matches of the current campaign.
LCA was ranked No. 4 and Yellow Springs No. 5 in the latest Miami Valley Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association Division III poll released Friday. That is likely to switch in the next set of rankings.
VanAusdal said after an earlier win this season he thought his team would become a dangerous opponent for teams by the postseason. Tuesday showed they are already at that status before the midway point.
The same type of motivation may not be present in other games moving forward, but it was good to have on Tuesday to get Yellow Springs a win against the only team to beat them a year ago.
“I told them as soon as we win, we need to text those seniors from last year and tell them we got one for them,” VanAusdal said.
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on X (formerly Twitter) @Steven_Wright_.