GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — It may not have been a win in the record-books per se, but you can’t complain if you’re a Defender fan today.
That’s because a young and overly inexperienced Ohio Valley Christian School soccer squad tied the Fairland Dragons 2-2 on Tuesday, as goalkeeper turned striker Justin Beaver got the game’s second equalizer with almost 28 minutes to play.
Despite the Dragons drilling nine second-half shots at OVCS keepers Beaver and Michael Gruber, none of them found the net — while the Defenders didn’t convert a couple of excellent second-half scoring opportunities.
The Dragons, a member of the Ohio Valley Conference with OVCS rival Gallia Academy, are now 7-4-4 following Tuesday’s tie.
Although, visiting Fairland fielded some younger players on Tuesday evening.
The Defenders’ mark is unknown, but for first-year head coach Jason Beaver and his charges, they definitely battled all throughout against Fairland.
In fact, despite OVCS’ fewer shots on goal as compared to the Dragons, they did start to gain control of the possession — towards the halfway mark of the second half.
With nine minutes remaining in the match, and following Fairland’s final failed second-half shot attempt, the Defenders came oh so close to staking a 3-2 lead — as a right-to-left cross shot by Micah Sanders went just inches wide left of the net.
The Dragons did have opportunities at extending their 2-1 halftime edge, as a bang-bang sequence saw Stephen Manns clang a rocket off the left post.
That was merely seconds before Mason Fannin — from practically point-blank range — missed to the left just three-and-a-minutes into the second stanza.
After five Fairland misses by the 27:47 mark, the Defenders forged the 2-2 tie, thanks to a goal by Beaver.
Beaver, in fact, was the OVCS goalkeeper for the entire first half — before Gruber took over until the 12-minute point of the second.
Beaver then went back into goal, as the Defenders’ last best rush was a feed from Trevor Blank to Elijah Warner, whose momentum was thwarted before the ball was picked up by Gruber.
But Gruber’s attempt sailed high over the net — with only a minute and 25 seconds left to play.
The game’s first two goals came within the opening eight minutes, as the score remained tied at 1-1 until the two-and-a-half minute mark of the first half.
The Dragons did arrive a half-hour late to the OVCS campus, but wasted little time in scoring — when Fannin found the strings against Beaver only four minutes and 47 seconds in.
But Warner was right there for the quick equalizer at the 32-minute mark, getting the ball beyond Fairland keeper Jammal Yousef.
From that point on, and into the midway mark of the second half, the Dragons did dominate the possession — as most of the match was played in their offensive half.
Only on occasion could the Defenders find running lanes to mount a charge at the other end.
Finally, Fairland found the go-ahead goal with two-and-a-half minutes before intermission, as Luke Tyree tallied the counter on a poked-in attempt beyond Beaver.
However, the Defenders did pitch a shutout for the final 42-and-a-half minutes, making Tuesday’s tie feel even more like a win.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106