BELLEFONTAINE — Botkins junior Xavier Monnin struggled to make shots in Division III district soccer matches this week at Bellefontaine’s AcuSport Stadium. He’ll get a chance to do better in a regional game next week after coming through on his last attempt in a district game.
Monnin scored with about four and a half minutes left against Springfield Greenon on Thursday to lift the Trojans to their second consecutive D-III district championship with a 2-1 victory. Botkins advances to face either Gahanna Columbus Academy or Milford Center Fairbanks in a regional semifinal on Wednesday.
After the Trojans missed several attempts at breaking the tie in the second half, Monnin got a shot past Greenon goalkeeper Jay Mujumdar.
Monnin took a pass from Zane Paul about 15 yards out, dribbled once and kicked toward the goal. Mujumdar got one hand on the shot, but it continued rolling by and went into the back left corner of the net.
Monnin missed five shots against Legacy Christian in a district semifinal on Monday and missed his first two on Thursday.
“He can drive me nuts,” Botkins coach Kevin Lynch said. “He’s got the best shot on the team and he should have scored three or four goals last game. I think he gets a little nervous when he gets there. He just has to rip it and have confidence in himself. He’s a really good player.”
Lynch said he was proud of the group for winning a second consecutive district title after winning the program’s first last year. Now, the squad will aim for its second consecutive regional title.
“We’ve got to take it one game at a time,” Lynch said. “We just earned one more game tonight, and we can’t think about another one yet.
“… I’m just happy for the boys. They deserve it. They work hard. They’re a good group of kids. I just love working with them.”
The Knights had possession for most of the first 12 minutes on Thursday and took a 1-0 lead after Trent Green scored with about 28 minutes left.
Botkins (16-3-1) kept possession for most of the rest of the game. After missing a couple of shots, the Trojans tied it up when Paul took a pass from Nathan Schneider, raced up the middle of the field and scored with 13:45 left.
Each squad had several missed shots in the second half before Monnin scored.
“We knew their only good chance of scoring was on a corner kick or a throw in,” Lynch said. “They really couldn’t break our defense down. We knew we could move the ball around them fairly well; we just missed a lot of chances in the first half, just like we did last game.
“… We tried to move the ball from side to side and attack their outside backs. I was thinking about changing stuff up when it was 1-1, but I figured we’d go to overtime and I’d change it up if we had to go to overtime.”
It was the first loss of the season for the Knights, which finish 17-1-1.
“They were bruisers out there,” Lynch said. “They just tried to put their heads down and tried to run through us. We just tried to stay organized and not give up corner kicks or throw ins.”
Botkins sophomore goalkeeper Carson Motter finished with six saves.
Columbus Academy and Fairbanks will play in a district final on Saturday. Botkins will travel to whichever school wins the match.
Regional matches are usually at neutral locations like district matches, but the OHSAA announced last month the team on the top line in the bracket will host regional matchups.
“That’s fine,” Lynch said about the team playing on the road. “Our field’s under water (due to all the recent rain) anyway, so it doesn’t bother us.”
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.