XENIA — The physical nature of Saturday’s match for Legacy Christian’s girls soccer team was a unique test this season.
Like the other types they have faced, the Knights have been successful in each one that has confronted them.
Legacy Christian is unbeaten with two weeks remaining in the regular season. The team is 12-0-1 following a 3-1 win at Greeneview, the team’s eighth straight victory. The only match the Knights have not won was a 0-0 draw at Chaminade Julienne in early September.
“We have put it in our mind ahead of time that although we’re doing things successfully, there are teams that are hunting for us,” head coach Brett Stanley said. “We’ve got to keep our intensity and our level up so we always tell [the team] we’ve got to start off strong and quick.”
LCA did so on Saturday when Lillian Weller scored within the first 10 minutes of the match. Weller, a transfer from Springfield Shawnee, leads the attack with 34 goals and she entered Saturday having quadruple the amount of her next closest challenger in the MBC which happens to be her teammate, Alli Graves, who also leads the league in assists. The Knights boast a plus-69 goal differential in its matches and have cruised most times they have taken to the pitch.
That is due in part to Brett saying he wanted to put more of an emphasis on defense than in previous year, which has led to the Knights keeping their opponents off the scoreboard in more than half of the team’s matches.
“It’s a change we’ve made from last year is not taking a little more risk to play offensively,” Brett said. “We had put some of our better players up front and I think just as we got to the season, it’s like I recognized we had a lot of talent and a lot of good players that had a chance to do very well so in part to settling on a formation early on we decided we were gonna play more balanced.”
The team in 2020 when this year’s seniors were freshman started the season winning its first six matches, but didn’t approach the current 13-game unbeaten run the current squad has produced. While this year’s team is halfway made up of those 10 seniors, including Audrey Stanley who was the league player of the year in 2021, Brett praised the work of the new freshman class which has filled in several roles.
Brett said he has enjoyed watching his players come together and mesh their differing experiences between playing on other junior or club teams to make this group a difficult one to defeat.
“I asked them where they like playing better, for your club team or high school team and it was unanimous they liked this high school team better,” he said. “I think it’s because they are all friends and it just makes it a lot easier to communicate, joke and get along with each other.”
LCA has been steadily climbing in the Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association’s state rankings in the last four weekly polls, moving into a tie for 10th in Division III last Monday.
The Knights will host Dayton Christian on Tuesday and the match will determine the Metro Buckeye Conference championship for this season. DC had won three straight titles before LCA dethroned them last year.
A year ago it was the school’s boys team which made it through the regular season without a loss. Now the girls are making their run at the same feat.
“We typically have at least one challenging game it seems like every week,” Brett said. “There’s been a few on our schedule that have really tried to prepare them for the few levels above what we still have in front of us. Getting them thinking of it ahead of time and knowing our players have responded very well they have enjoyed that.”
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on X (formerly Twitter) @Steven_Wright_.