By Rob Kiser
CASSTOWN — Both teams had their moments at Miami East High School Saturday night as the Piqua and Miami East boys soccer teams opened the season.
In the end, a three-goal spurt by the Indians early in the second half was the difference as Piqua held on for a 4-3 victory.
What pleased Piqua coach Danny Henry the most was he was on the other end of a lot of one-goal games a year ago.
“We let it get close at the end and we probably shouldn’t have,” Henry said. “But, we were able to hold on for the win. We lost a lot of seniors of last year’s team. But, these kids showed me they are a different group from the start of practice.”
East gave Piqua an early wake-up call, scoring in the first four minutes when Connar Wilson finished a Devyn Carson thru-ball.
“To be honest, that happened in quite a few of our scrimmages,” Henry said. “The thing about that is we have learned to rebound from that and we did that tonight.”
East coach Adam Bell was happy to get the early goal.
“But, one of the things we learned tonight, is you can’t let up — you have to keep attacking,” Bell said.
Piqua evened the score with 36:23 left in the half.
The Indians used the strong leg of senior defender Caleb Vallieu on a free kick and Brad Hohlbein was able to finish it in front of the goal.
“Caleb (Vallieu) has both finesse and power,” Henry said. “He can put it in the net or place it to the backside. That was a big goal for momentum.”
The half finished that way and there was no indication of the offensive explosion that was about to come in the second half.
It started with Hohlbein just missing of the post and crossbar on two scoring attempts.
But, he wouldn’t be denied much longer.
With 34:49 to go in the game, he drilled a shot from almost 30 yards out to give Piqua the lead.
“After he (Brad Hohlbein) hit the post and crossbar, I told him to stick with it,” Henry said. “I expected him to score, I just didn’t expect it on a such a beautiful shot. That had to be a 25-yard volley at least.”
Less than two minutes later, Hohlbein completed a hat trick off a Caden Jones thru-ball to make it 3-1.
When, Zach Foreman finished a Jones corner kick at the 22-19 mark it was 4-1.
“Caden (Jones) hit a great ball,” Henry said. “Zach (Foreman) moved up from the defense and did a great job finishing. We were up 4-1 and then I made some substitutions and I think we let up a little bit. I knew if Miami East scored, it would give them some momentum.”
The Vikings created some nervous moments for Piqua.
First, Wilson scored his second goal off an assist from Parker Heim with 15:40 to go in the game.
Then, with 11:18 remaining, Carson picked up his second assist, with Dalton Tanner finishing his thru-ball and suddenly it was 4-3.
“We made an adjustment and moved one guy up,” West said. “I think that made a difference. I thought the kids played hard the whole game. We had some calls that didn’t go our way, but the kids need learn that the calls are not always going to go your way.”
While East had some close misses, Piqua keeper Wesley Ford was able to preserve the win.
“He had never played soccer before,” Henry said. “We picked him up from baseball and it has worked out well for us.”
Both teams will be in action this week.
Miami East will host Graham Monday, while Piqua will play at Springboro Tuesday.
And both will have some positives to build on.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.