SANDUSKY – Archbold boys soccer will be competing for a Division III state championship Saturday after yet another impressive performance in tournament play Tuesday, defeating Kirtland 3-0 at Sandusky’s Cedar Point Stadium.
The Blue Streaks were one of the state’s final four in 2015 where they came up short in the semifinal round. Now, they will get their shot at a state title.
“This program is nine years old now,” stated Archbold coach Sean Stewart. “We’ve had a lot of success. And this is another chapter in that. This group has pushed the envelope a little bit further for those that come after it. Just a great feeling.”
Elijah Zimmerman described the closeness of the team as being a big reason for their success. “Our unity of the team. We all just love each other,” he said on what makes this group special. “And we all care about each other. We have such a dynamic offense. It’s just great out there.”
As for the game itself, Archbold appeared to have taken the lead just 2:39 in on a goal from Zimmerman, but it was waved off in light of a controversial offsides call.
Zimmerman would get his redemption later in the half. With 12:38 left until halftime, he let one loose from the left side over Kirtland keeper Tyler Banyasz for a 1-0 Blue Streak lead.
“They swung it to the midfield and they swung it to me and I just got a touch. And then smacked it,” said Zimmerman of the score. “Obviously it was a great shot and went in. It was just great because I got the first one called back. I was kind of mad after that. But, to feel that one go in and it broke the glass for us. We were able to get the momentum and keep going (throughout) the game.”
The Streaks carried that one-goal lead into the break, although it felt like they could have had more.
“On a surface like this, it favors technical players. And our attack can play very technically when we need to,” said Stewart of his team’s game overall. “I thought that we controlled possession for most of the game. Had a lot of good attacks. It took us awhile to find that final ball. I would still say that they (Kirtland) have some good defenders over there and so that was part of the reason it was difficult. But, for the most part we just needed to get our shots on frame and find that little final pass to break things open.”
Archbold got a much-needed insurance goal early on in half number two. Josh Kidder was awarded a free kick, finding the back of the net from roughly 25 yards out to make it 2-0 with 33:16 remaining. He tacked on another with under 30 seconds to play, putting an exclamation point on the victory.
“What hasn’t he done in high school?” remarked Stewart. “It’s tremendous. I’m lucky that I get to coach a player of his caliber. He’s got great teammates around him which helps as well. You see it every day. I see it every day in practice.”
While many teams would be satisfied just making the state final, the Streaks have bigger aspirations in mind. Stewart aims to keep them on task in the days leading up to Saturday’s game.
“We’ve still got a job to do,” said the Archbold coach. “We celebrate this, we’ll celebrate it tonight. Tomorrow, we go to work. And we’ve got a job to do on Saturday. Once we complete that, then we can celebrate. And really celebrate, because hopefully we’ll be bringing home a state championship.”
Archbold gets the winner of Dayton Christian and Grandview Heights for the state championship on Saturday at MAPFRE Stadium at a time still to be determined. Dayton Christian and Grandview Heights play tonight.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010