TIPP CITY — Lehman Catholic struggled to start the season but is back in the Three Rivers Conference race.
The Cavaliers beat Bethel 2-0 on Thursday at the brand-new Legacy Stadium to pull even in TRC play.
The loss was the first conference defeat for the Bees (5-5), which are 2-1 in league play. Lehman (4-4) and Miami East (3-3-1) are each 1-1 in conference play while Milton-Union (4-5) is 1-2.
Lehman lost 1-0 to Milton in its first league game on Aug. 23. The squad dropped to 2-4 after a 6-1 loss to West Liberty-Salem earlier this month but beat Newton (6-3) by a 3-1 score last Saturday before winning Thursday.
“Definitely a rough start,” Lehman first-year coach Oshae Peart said. “I think all along the way, we knew we deserved to win. Lessons came with that, and today showed that, first of all, we could have won all those games, but second of all, that we’re learning and progressing.”
Lehman is being led again by Exa Dexter, who was the TRC player of the year last year. Dexter, a senior, scored one goal in the first half of Thursday’s win and has scored a TRC-best 19 goals this season.
“She’s a goal machine,” Peart said. “She’s really a model for the rest of our girls. I think the key to our season is for her to keep doing what she’s doing, and also to be a great model for the rest of our attackers.”
Freshman midfielder Veronica Pannapara scored a goal off a corner kick in the second half on Thursday; she has scored four this season and has a TRC-best 11 assists.
Freshman forward Emi Wray has scored three goals. Senior defender Aubri Karn, junior forward Anya Kolb, freshman defender Cathy Hudson and freshman midfielder Eliyah Barhorst each have three assists.
Six of the 16 players on Lehman’s roster are freshmen. The low numbers aren’t new for Peart, who was an assistant coach for three years before taking over the program this year.
“We still have a long way to go as far as learning, but we’re definitely making progressive steps,” Peart said. “… Everyone has to be ready. Low numbers is something we’re kind of used to right now, but it’s not an excuse. …Everyone has to keep working. Girls get played in different positions, positions they’re not used to.”
Thursday’s game was the first of three big league games for the Cavaliers. They’re scheduled to host Miami East on Saturday afternoon and to host Milton on Thursday to begin the second round of league play.
Peart is hopeful the lessons learned early this season have prepared the squad to finish strong.
“I think we needed to learn how to work as a team,” Peart said. “We’re not going to win every game. It’s not going to be easy, and along the way, lessons are going to come. It’s how you use them. Do you sit back and sulk, or do you move forward?”
Sidney’s Vordemark has 5th hat trick in 6 games
Sidney junior forward Larkyn Vordemark had her fifth hat trick in six games on Wednesday and leads Miami Valley League players in goals.
Vordemark scored three goals and had one assist on Wednesday in a 10-0 win over West Carrollton, which was the squad’s sixth consecutive win.
She has scored three or more goals in every game since Aug. 26; a one-goal performance with two assists in a 6-0 win over Stebbins last Wednesday is the lone game in the stretch she hasn’t had a hat trick.
Vordemark, who was a first team all-MVL selection last year, has scored an MVL-best 23 goals and has made four assists.
Sidney senior defender Kimora Johnson leads the league in assists with 11, while senior Olivia Barga and sophomore Kenzi Koester are tied for third with eight each and sophomore Katie McKinney is tied for fifth with seven. Koester is tied for seventh with seven goals.
Wednesday’s win was the third shutout of the season for sophomore goalkeeper Kaylee Morgan. She has made 20 saves and allowed 13 goals.
Sidney started the season 1-1-1 but has rolled recently. The Yellow Jackets (7-1-1, 3-1-0 MVL Valley) are scheduled to host Kettering Fairmont (3-4-1) on Saturday and to travel to Piqua (2-5-1) on Wednesday.
Anna atop WOSL standings
Anna’s girls soccer team once again has a strong early lead in Western Ohio Soccer League.
The Rockets (6-1-1) are 3-0 WOSL play and are the only remaining undefeated team. Botkins (3-4-1, 1-1-0) is in second place.
Anna lost its first match of the season in a 3-0 loss to Elida on Saturday but bounced back with a 1-0 win over Delphos St. John’s on Tuesday.
Anna junior Chelsea McEldowney has scored a team-high nine goals and has four assists.