Delta advances in district with win in PK shootout

By Joe Blystone - For the Expositor

MILLBURY — The key to playing chicken is not flinching before your opponent.

Overtime penalty kicks in soccer are the same…don’t flinch.

Delta didn’t waver and the guy who kept the Panthers in the game nailed the clincher as the Panthers finished with a 5-3 advantage in PKs for a 6-4 win in a Division II boys district semifinal at Lake Monday.

Delta now plays Bowling Green Thursday at 5 p.m. at Lake for a district title.

“Our defensive line was phenomenal,” explained Panther coach KJ Abair. “This is why we have 10 shutouts this year. We kept playing; we kept working.”

Both teams entered the match unbeaten with similar 14-0-3 records and both played solid on the defensive end in the first half.

Delta went ahead at the halfway point in the first half thanks to a Lake miscue.

Flyer goalie Holden Wolrich seemingly had corralled a bouncing ball near the top of the box.

However when he lost the handle, Delta’s Caiden Etter was there to root the sphere past him creating an Etter against no one situation which the Panther sophomore scored on to put Delta on top.

Lake had just one shot in the first 40, but that quickly changed in the second half.

Brodey Roth captured Gael Rios’ header a minute into the second to keep Lake scoreless but five minutes later, Rios, on a feed from Jackson Gladieux, got his revenge with a score to knot the game.

After that Roth withstood a barrage of Lake attempts, stopping Rios twice more, and Kaiden Reed on another to keep the score tied through regulation and two overtime periods.

Eli Mora and Bryce Gillen each scored on the first of the Panther penalties, and Reed nailed one for the Flyers.

However, Greyson Reed went high in Lake’s second try, opening the door for the Panthers.

Nolan Risner and Cooper Tenney each knocked in penalty kicks for the Panthers and were countered by Gladieux and Rios, bringing Roth to the spot with a chance to clinch by giving Delta a two-goal lead with just one Flyer shooter left.

Roth made good, freezing Wolrich and going right, sending the Panthers scurrying on the field in celebration.

“We had to pick five kids and after I picked five Brodey said I’ll go fifth,” said an excited Abair. “He said if we get that far I want to go fifth.

“He just said if I get it I want to stop the last one and keep the momentum going.”

At this time, this is the farthest a Panther soccer team has advanced in the OHSAA tournament.

By Joe Blystone

For the Expositor