KETTERING — The Piqua boys soccer team got off to a rough start, but played with heart the entire night in a 4-0 loss to Fairmont in D-I sectional tournament action.
Piqua came in as the 13th seed, while Fairmont was seeded fourth.
The Indians also were without their goalkeeper, so sweeper Caleb Vallieu took over the goalie duties.
To make matters worse, Piqua got a red card 10 minutes into the game, forcing the Indians to play a man short the rest of the way.
“The fact that we had that early adversity call 10 minutes into in the game — they score off the free kick, then they get a PK and Caleb (Vallieu) saves the PK to fire our guys up,” Piqua coach Danny Henry said. “Whether the score was 1-0, 2-0, 3-0 or 4-0, our guys never quit. That is all you can ask.
“Sometimes the other team is just better than you are. Fairmont came to play tonight and they were the better team. As long as you play with heart, toy can compete with anybody.”
Vallieu had a strong game in goal.
“Our goal keeper couldn’t be here tonight,” Henry said. “Caleb Vallieu started at sweeper for us at four years. He stepped up tonight, knowing that was our best chance.”
It was typical of the kind of effort Henry has come to expect from his seniors, which include Vallieu, Bradley Hohlbein, Tim Fair, Jon Gerlach, Jared Brandt, Nolan Maurer and Zach Foreman.
“Tim (Fair), Zach (Foreman), Nolan (Maurer) and we had three guys who had never played before that gave us a great effort,” Henry said. “Brad (Bradley Hohlbein) just had a phenomenal season with what he did scoring goals and leading the GWOC all season. Jared Brandt is another guy who is prime example of that. He played forward, midfield, defense. He played every position for me. This group of seniors was special. They could play any position and they gave you eighty minutes every night.”
Henry sees a bright future as well for Piqua, who finished 6-9-1.
“We have lost 16 guys out of the program in Piqua in two years,” Henry said. “That is tough to rebound from, but we definitely have the weapons to do it. We have a number of guys with experience and guys playing at the club level and some incoming freshman.
“We have to get touches in the offseason in the winter, spring, kids have to do open fields and put the work in in the weight room. If we do all those things and put in the effort, I feel we can be a strong team again next year.”
And as they showed Wednesday, playing with heart gives you a chance every time you take the field.