SIDNEY — Jake Emrick and Michael Denning have been playing soccer together for as long as they can remember.
Which had them steps ahead of Greeneview on two critical moments Tuesday on the Lehman Catholic soccer pitch.
Emrick scored off a Denning assist late in the first half, before returning the favor early in the second half to give the Cavaliers a 2-0 win over Greeneview in a Division III sectional tournament opener.
Lehman (8-7-2) advances to play at state-ranked Troy Christian at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
“We have been playing together for a long time,” Denning said with a laugh after the game. “We know what each other are going to do and where we are going to be.”
The first goal, which Emrick drilled in from the right corner, broke a scoreless tie with 6:41 remaining in the half.
“It is always good to get the first goal and get one in the first half,” Lehman coach Tom Wiseman said. “Those two work really well together.”
It was a half where Greeneview had a number of scoring opportunities — including two direct kicks from just outside the box — but Lehman goalie Ryan Goettemoeller was up to the challenge on every opportunity the Rams, who would finish with 20 shots in the game, had.
“Ryan is very good about taking away angles and not giving you much room,” Wiseman said. “He takes away the angles. It takes almost a perfect shot — whether it is a direct or indirect kick, to get it past him.”
And while Lehman had 17 shots, they were the ones able to convert.
“Really, I felt like we played good team defense the whole game,” Wiseman said. “It is the best defense we have played in five or six matches. I thought we did a better job in transition the second half and didn’t let them (Greeneview) control the ball as much.”
And it didn’t take long in the second half to make it 2-0.
“We knew they (Greeneview) were going to have to gamble and take some chances,” Wiseman said.
Emrick did a beautiful job maneuvering past several Greeneview defenders, before firing a perfect cross to Denning.
“I knew he was going to be open,” Emrick said about Denning. “I just did what I needed to do.”
He was almost too open.
“I was thinking, don’t shank this and miss,” Denning said with a laugh. “And I almost did. But, there is no way I was going to miss that shot.”
Wiseman said there was another key to the duo’s success.
“Really, I thought out wings Elijah Jock and Ethan Potts did a great job on the outside and creating openings for Jake (Emrick) and Michael (Denning).”
Goettemoeller finished with 14 saves in recording the shutout.
Now, comes the challenge of facing the state-ranked Eagles.
“We get closer every time we play them,” Wiseman said. “The key is going to be not letting them score in the first half. If we can be right there at halftime, then we will be alright. The problem is every time we play them, we get down two or three goals before we start playing.”
And Lehman has the momentum of a strong performance in the opening round, led by its prolific weapons at the offensive end.
Rob Kiser is the sports editor of the Piqua Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.