By Josh Brown
SIDNEY — The whole Indian boys soccer team will remember their first trip to the district final.
None, though, more than Nelson Clymer.
Newton’s junior goalkeeper hit a punt that bounced traveled 120 yards in the end, bouncing over the opposing goalkeeper’s head and rolling into the net. Unfortunately for the Indians, though, it proved to be the only offense they could manage against the sixth-ranked team in the state as Newton fell to Greeneview 5-1 in the Division III district championship game Saturday night at Sidney High School.
The Indians finished the season 13-4-2, reaching the district title game for the first time by defeating Bethel in Tuesday’s sectional title game. But Greeneview simply proved to be too much to handle, and now the Rams advance to the regional final to face the state’s top-ranked team, Summit Country Day, a 7-0 winner over Yellow Springs Saturday.
“I’m proud of the kids,” Newton coach Brent Hodges said. “We went 13-4-2, our first district game. It took us six sectionals to get there, but we finally made it.”
For the Indians, playing on the fast turf at Sidney’s football stadium proved to be too big an adjustment to make in such a short time.
“Playing on this turf just kills us,” Hodges said. “We were trying to play our normal on-grass passes, and they just don’t work on turf. Playing on this stuff really hurts us smaller D-III schools. I understand why it’s set up this way, it just hurts us.”
The Indians took advantage of it for the first five minutes of the game. Newton put pressure on from the opening kick, and with less than four minutes gone, Seth Courtney received a drop pass with some space and let a 30-yard shot fly — but it went less than a foot wide right of the goal.
But Greeneview began playing defense — and the Rams transitioned into offense in a blink. Jaden Baise hit a shot off the crossbar 10 minutes in, and Ben Adkins, Dart Hovan and Jacob Mickle all hit shots that Clymer staved off within the next six minutes. Each time the Indians would clear, though, Greeneview raced it right back down the field to keep the pressure on.
“That’s the fun of turf,” Hodges said. “You can turn things a lot quicker once you learn to run on it.”
But with 23:40 left in the first half, the Rams broke through. Mickle hit a shot toward the far post from the left side of the field, and Clymer made a diving sive to deflect it away. But Josh Jenkins had gotten behind the defense and was there to tap in the rebound for the game’s first score.
A mere 2:03 later, Hovan fought his way through a pair of defenders while dribbling the ball up the left side, hitting a shot from a tough angle and ricocheting it in off a Newton player to make it a 2-0 game.
The Indians remained on the defensive — until the turf helped them turn defense into offense in a vastly different way.
Clymer made a routine save on another Greeneview shot and hit a punt that landed 10 yards beyond midfield. It bounced high and hard off the turf with no one there to play it, and as the Rams’ keeper began to step out of the goal to get in position to play it, it bounced one more time — higher than he’d anticipated. The ball sailed over his head, hit the ground again and found its way into the goal, cutting the deficit in half with 10:45 to go until the break.
Clymer had actually scored a goal in the Indians’ final regular season game against National Trail — but as a position player, not while he was in the goal. The strange play energized the Indians’ fans and players — and brought back a memory for Hodges, as well.
“I laughed and told him (Clymer) that we’re tied now,” he said with a laugh. “I did it myself back in ‘84.”
Greeneview answered before the half, though, with Mickle scoring at the 6:19 mark on a breakaway to make it a 3-1 game at the break. And the Rams came out on fire in the second half, with Hovan scoring with 39:17 to play and Mickle adding his second with 38:49 to go. In a blink, it was 5-1.
Newton tried to answer a minute later, but Rhett Gipe’s shot went wide right and high at the 35:40 mark. And with 28:15 to go, Treyton Lavy fought his way through a double team, but his shot went wide, as well.
With less than 10 minutes to go, Lavy hit a 40-yard free kick at the near post, but it missed just wide. And with 1:22 to go, the Indians had one final chance to draw closer, but Nick Honeycutt hit his shot high.
It was the last game in the careers of seniors Lavy, Kyle Demido, Andrew Dilts, Kyle Maslowski and Bryan Delcamp, but with junior Honeycutt breaking the single-season record for goals this year and a host of other returners coming back next year, the Indians will have their sights set on returning to the district level — turf or no.
“I was proud of them,” Hodges said. “The kids played hard.”
D-II District Final
Tipp 3, Wyoming 1
KETTERING — Wyoming’s hitters did everything they could to slow down Tippecanoe’s momentum.
But the Red Devil defense just kept things rolling.
In the end, the Tippecanoe volleyball team (20-6) won its 10th straight match — and first Division II district championship since 2010 — by defeating Wyoming in four close sets, 25-23, 25-21, 25-27, 25-21 Saturday at Trent Arena.
Wyoming, which was ranked No. 5 in the state in the final D-II coaches’ poll, had entered the match on a roll of its own, winner of 21 straight.
“The difference in the match was that our defense did not stop pursuing balls and energized the team to push forward and never stop working to control the ball,” Tippecanoe coach Howard Garcia said. “We did not allow Wyoming to get more than three points in a row and did not allow them to score with the same place set twice in a row.”
Jordan McMahan led that defensive effort with 30 digs, Kara Trimbach added 15 digs to go with 45 assists and four aces, and Alyssa Crusry had 14 digs and 10 kills.
Aubrey Cox led the Devil offense with 15 kills and seven digs, Taylor Prall had 13 kills and four blocks, Laura Rosselit had four blocks and Taylor Waltemathe had four aces.
Up next for Tippecanoe is the regional semifinal Thursday at Butler High School, where the Devils will face an opponent that’s familiar to Garcia — Fenwick.
“It’s an emotional match for me, because that was where I won a state championship, and it was the last school I coached prior to coming to Tipp,” he said.
D-IV Regional Final
Lehman 3, MVCA 0
TROY — After seeing its run of 21 consecutive district championship snapped last season, Lehman reclaimed its crown in the Division IV district final Saturday in Troy, sweeping Miami Valley Christian Academy 25-9, 25-16, 25-14.
Lehman (19-7) will face Fort Loramie in the regional semifinal round Thursday at Tippecanoe High School.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.