Dayton Christian High School boys soccer senior captain Sam Reid knew his teammates wouldn’t give up, despite an early two-goal deficit in their Division III state semifinal match against Grandview Heights on Wednesday night at London High School.
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“This team just shows incredible heart,” Reid said. “The past two games we’ve been battle-tested. We’ve had to fight through adversity and this just proves it again.”
The Warriors scored three unanswered goals — including two by Reid in the second half — to beat Grandview Heights 3-2 to advance to their first boys soccer state final match in school history. The third-ranked Warriors (20-2-1) will face eighth-ranked Archbold (21-1-0) in the state final at 1 p.m. Saturday at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus. Archbold beat Kirtland 3-0 on Tuesday in the other state semifinal.
Entering the match, the Warriors knew they had to stop Grandview Heights forward Manny Day, who had already scored 48 goals this season.
Day capitalized on two scoring chances early in the match, netting two goals in the first 12 minutes to give Grandview Heights (16-3-3) at 2-0 advantage.
“We were actually trying to man mark him while he was scoring,” Warriors coach Neil Craft said. “I think we just tightened up a little bit. He’s the real deal, probably the best player in the state. We gave him a little bit too much of a window twice and he made us pay.”
The situation was nothing new for the Warriors, Reid said. The team had overcome a 2-1 second-half deficit against Madeira in its previous match, scoring two goals in the final 23 minutes to win its first regional championship since 1982.
Dayton Christian’s David Hallock beat the Bobcats keeper to cut the deficit to 2-1 with 2.3 seconds left in the first half.
“It really turned momentum in our favor,” Craft said. “We had a few chances we didn’t put away in the first half, but that’s how it goes. (Hallock’s goal) brought life to us. Going into half at 2-0 would’ve been a lot different.”
Reid could only describe the goal as “massive.”
“It was the big difference in the locker room,” he said. “We go in there and we have something to propel ourselves forward on. It really shifted the game.”
Less than seven minutes into the second half, Reid’s volley tied the game.
A few moments later, the Bobcats’ Joel Samuels was sent off after receiving his second yellow card. The Bobcats had to play the final 32 minutes with 10 players.
“It took us awhile to calm down and find feet and possess the ball,” Craft said. “We got caught in the moment playing a little too direct.”
With 8:50 remaining, Reid nailed a rocket from about 25 yards that trickled in to give Dayton Christian the lead for good.
The Warriors’ senior class will finish their careers as the winningest in program history with 61 victories, eclipsing a 36-year mark.
“It’s been a ,” Craft said. “These guys deserve it, they really do. We’ve done the work. I don’t want to sound arrogant, but we kind of expect to be in these positions to compete at a high level.”
The Warriors need just one more victory to accomplish their ultimate goal of winning a state title. The school’s most recent championship came in 2015 from its wrestling team.
“I’m happy for the boys and I’m happy for the school,” Craft said. “It’s not about us, it’s about these young men. I’m proud of what they’ve been able to accomplish. We’ll be sure to give all the glory back to God.”