Oak Hill’s historic campaign ends in regional final

Despite a pair of well-fought contests on Saturday, Oak Hill’s quest for their first regional championship in school history fell short by just one goal. The Golden Eagles won a thriller over Yorktown in the opener, defeating the Tigers 4-2 on penalty kicks to advance, before falling to an always formidable Fort Wayne Canterbury squad 2-1 in the regional final later in the evening.

Against Yorktown, despite a flurry of tremendous chances on both sides, neither team could find the back of the net during regulation. Oak Hill finished with 13 shots and Yorktown collected six, but both goalkeepers were up to the task. Hudson Bouw made four saves in regulation, including a pair of diving stops with Oak Hill attackers right on his doorstep, while Seth O’Blenis also made four stops, while making several adjustments due to high winds throughout the afternoon.

Oak Hill had a chance to put the game away late in the second half, but they could not capitalize. While Bouw made some big saves, the Golden Eagles just missed on a few high-quality scoring chances, including an Evan Pearce that sailed just high in the final four minutes.

The Golden Eagles also had a chance to secure the victory in the second overtime, but despite three straight corner kicks, they could not solve Bouws, who stood on his head throughout the second half.

Penalty kicks are never an exact science, and most of the time, they come down to blink luck, but Head Coach Joel Garverick and the Golden Eagles were confident in themselves heading into the penalty kick phase.

“It’s just a preparation thing,” Oak Hill Head Coach Joel Garverick said. “If you prepare, then you’ll have the piece of mind knowing that you know where you are going to kick and you know where to place the ball. Obviously, while a game situation is really different, having that in the back of your mind…is a huge benefit to have.”

Clayton Macy, Hank VanBibber, and Dalian Leach each scored on their opportunities, while Seth O’Blenis made a key stop on Yorktown’s Seth Tollet, putting the Golden Eagles fully in control. Mark Sevier punched the Golden Eagles’ ticket to the regional final, their first since 2012, on Oak Hill’s final kick.

“Seth came up huge. He made a save, and was a big presence in the box,” Garverick said. “All five of our kicks were well placed, even the one that they saved. I can’t ask for much more than that. Penalties are always a bit of a crap shoot and a bit of a guessing game, but I’m proud with how we played over the course of the game, and I’m glad we were able to come out on top.”

However, in what would be their final match of the season, Oak Hill, despite a valiant effort, scored too little too late against the Cavaliers. Canterbury dominated the first half, controlling most of the possession and scored with 16 minutes remaining to grab an advantage they would not relinquish.

The Cavalier added to their lead late in the second stanza, and while Macy cut Canterbury’s lead in half with a penalty kick with 2:32 remaining, Oak Hill could not find the equalizer, bringing a tremendous season to a close.

While Garverick and the Golden Eagles were most certainly looking to go further in the tournament, their success in the 2020 campaign cannot be overstated. Their 17 wins after the best in program history, and they came away with their first sectional championship in four years.

“It’s definitely a special group of kids and a special group of players,” Garverick said. “We had an incredible season. 17 wins, and a sectional championship on top of that, but they were not satisfied. That just speaks volumes to their approach over the course of this season. I couldn’t be prouder of the effort they put in today, but really over the course of the whole season.”

In their high school careers, Macy, Sevier, Leach, Pedro Perez, and Kasey Smith helped lead the Golden Eagles to an incredible 43 wins, including 30 in the past two years. This group not only took Oak Hill boys soccer to new heights, but also set the tone and foundation for those who come after them.

“It was an absolute honor to be able to coach these seniors, especially,” Garverick said. “Being able to see them grow and mature is really the biggest blessing as a coach. Obviously, you play to win, but really, the main reason why I do it is to help and encourage kids to become better men. I think that is absolutely the case with this group. The growth that they showed and the maturity that they showed is really phenomenal. I love them so much, and I couldn’t be prouder.”

Oak Hill ends the season with a 17-2-1 record.


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