Warriors reach end of the road

RON JOHNSTON The Marietta Times Warren’s Kyler Gardner (11) battles Athens’ Saad Alharbi for possession of the ball during a high school boys soccer district final match Saturday in Logan.

LOGAN — Warren High’s third meeting against Athens High on the pitch was anything but charming.

After beating AHS twice during regular-season play, the Warriors dropped a 2-1 double-overtime decision to the Bulldogs in an Ohio SE DII boys’ distict soccer final at Logan High Saturday night.

“Unfortunately, in a tournament game, you have to make it happen,” said WHS head soccer coach Ekrem Eksi. “If not, the team that you beat twice can come back and beat you. That’s what happened tonight.”

Warren bowed out with a 15-2-1 overall record. Ethan Yost scored the Warriors’ lone goal in the match.

Athens improved its mark to 9-4-4. Danny Goetz scored both the equalizer and the match-winner for the ‘Dogs, who are scheduled to play Alexander (16-1-2) in a regional semifinal at 7 p.m. Wednesday at LHS.

The Bulldog also won their district semi in double overtime, 3-2, against Fairfield Wednesday.

“When it comes to double overtime, our conditioning and mental toughness came into play tonight,” said AHS boss Simon Diki. “I’m so proud of these kids. We worked so hard. We earned this. This was our goal.

“They (Warriors) beat us twice before but we were not prepared then. We’re on a roll right now.”

Warren staked itself to a 1-0 advantage in the 14th minute of play when Ethan Yost beat Athens keeper Finn Mitchell with a hard shot in the box. Warrior senior Zed Strahler was credited with an assist.

For Yost, the goal was his 22nd of the season. In Wednesday’s district semi, the Warrior sophomore was injured against Circleville in the second half. So, the fact that he was able to come back and play in the final was a big boost for his team.

“Two minutes later (after Yost’s goal), we had an opportunity to make it 2-0, and we didn’t,” Eksi said. “We made a bad mistake on goal, and that gave them (Bulldogs) hope.”

In the 23rd minute, Goetz tied to score with Reese Dorman assisting.

At haltime, it was 1-all.

After a scoreless second half and first overtime period, Goetz drilled a long perimeter shot from the top, about 25 yards away, that Warren keeper Thomas Williams was not able to get a hand on. The AHS sophomore’s goal came with 9:15 remaining in the second OT.

“We were not pressing and our passes were not right,” Eksi said. “We didn’t play well.”