On the final day of the season, the Dayton Christian High School boys soccer team couldn’t quite find the second-half magic that had propelled it to the state’s biggest stage.
After comeback victories in their last two matches, the Warriors were unable to find an equalizer in the final 30 minutes, falling 2-1 to Archbold in the Division III state final on Saturday afternoon at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus.
“The clock struck midnight in terms of coming back from going down,” Warriors coach Neil Craft said.
Dayton Christian finished 20-3-1, advancing to its first state final in school history.
Noah Alexander had the lone goal for Dayton Christian. Paul Socha had seven saves for the Warriors.
Trey Theobald and Elijah Zimmerman each scored goals for the Blue Streaks, who won their first state championship in school history.
Three minutes into the match, Josh Kidder’s cross found the foot of Trey Theobald, who put the ball into the back of the net to give the Blue Streaks (22-1) the early lead.
Dayton Christian’s Sam Reid was taken down inside the box and Alexander scored on a penalty kick with 11 minutes remaining in the first half to tie the match.
“We played excellent in the final 20 minutes of the first half,” Craft said. “We really took the momentum back. We were getting great opportunities and frankly, we should’ve put a few of those chances away.”
Three minutes into the second half, Elijah Zimmerman scored off a corner kick to put Archbold back in front.
Dayton Christian pressed throughout the final 30 minutes, but were unable to penetrate the Blue Streaks’ defense. The Warriors had nine corner kicks in the second half and had nine shots on goal.
“I’m really, really proud of their resolve and their relentless effort to the end,” Craft said. “We’ve seen that all season long. It’s a team that can fight well. Archbold is very talented in the air, so it was difficult to serve balls in with any success. We had shots on target, shots that went just wide, shots that the keeper saved. We never quit trying.”
The Warriors’ senior class finish their careers as the winningest in program history with 61 victories, eclipsing a 36-year mark. After the match, Reid thanked the student section to supporting the team to the very end.
“It’s been a blessing to be as healthy, as humble and as hungry as we’ve been all year long,” Craft said. “I’m so happy for the school. It’s united students that aren’t even athletes. As you saw today from the crowd, we had some of the biggest crowds the team has seen in school history. That’s exciting. It’s good for our program and our school. We fell short, but they’re going to look back on this with a lot of pride and honor.”