Liberty Center was able to pack their defense in and hold onto a 1-0 lead at halftime, but Delta showed a sense of urgency in the final 40 minutes, scoring four times in a 4-2 win in a Northwest Ohio Athletic League boys soccer contest played at the Panther football field Tuesday night.
With the win, the Panthers claim the NWOAL boys soccer title as they finish league play at 5-0-1, while Wauseon ended up at 4-0-2.
“We’ve been working up for it,” said Delta Coach KJ Abair on winning the program’s first ever league title. “I took over the youth program back 10 years ago, and we’ve just been building for this. It just shows. These boys give all they can.
“They said, ‘we’re not getting a loss this year.’ And we’re gonna try one more. We got one more game for this season, to end the season with no losses just two ties.”
The accomplishment was the culmination of four years of hard work since Abair took the reins of the program.
“I told our AD when he hired me four years ago, I said our fourth year we’ll have our double-digit winning season, and we will be going for a league title that year, hopefully. And he goes, ‘alright I’m counting on it, fourth year.’ I told him these freshmen, I’ve been coaching them freshmen since they were eight years old. I’m the only soccer coach they’ve ever known,”
Despite some chances for Delta in the first five minutes, it was Liberty Center who dented the scoreboard first. Isaiah Estelle fired a rocket from near the right sideline and into the back of the net, putting the Tigers up 1-0 at the 23:55 mark.
The Panthers did not waste much time in evening up the score after halftime.
Nolan Risner, with almost his back turned away from the goal, flipped one into the right-corner of the net to knot the score 3:09 in. Then, with 23:19 remaining, Risner slipped a pass to Max York for the go-ahead goal that put them up 2-1.
“I just told them, I said ’ we’re not playing good soccer. We’re sending the ball through, we’re not playing our soccer. Just calm down. Play our game.’ We always say they’re a second half team, that’s what these boys say. And I told them, ‘hey, you just do it. You show that we’re a second half team then,’” Abair said on his message to the team at the half.
Goals by Carson Chiesa and Shane Kruger — the two seniors on the roster — extended the Delta lead to 4-1 with under eight minutes left.
LC did get one back with just under six minutes to go, but it did not affect the final result.
Delta (13-0-2) closes the regular season on Saturday when they host Maumee Valley Country Day. They open tournament play with a rematch versus Liberty Center next Wednesday, Oct. 20 at 5 p.m.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.