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Red Devils strike early to knock out Chiefs

PIQUA — As the rounds progress in the soccer postseason, goals become a greater premium.

BHSsoccer 1023

Bellefontaine’s Brett Wisner heads the ball away from a pair of Tippecanoe players during Monday’s Division II sectional tournament game in Piqua. (EXAMINER PHOTO | MATT HAMMOND)

In what was expected to be a low-scoring affair Monday night, Tippecanoe came up with an early goal and added an insurance score later in the first half to end Bellefontaine’s season with a 2-0 loss in a Division II boys sectional final.

Third-seeded Bellefontaine and top-seeded Tippecanoe played to a scoreless tie during the regular season.

When the Red Devils found the net on a free kick less than seven minutes into the rematch Monday, it immediately became an uphill battle for the Chiefs.

“An early goal like that changes the whole complexion of the match,” said Bellefontaine head coach Steve Henry. “We had a goal called back. If that one goes in and their goal doesn’t, we could be the ones celebrating right now.”

Tippecanoe tallied another goal with 7:27 left until halftime and the Chiefs were unable to recover.

“Our weakness all year has been free kicks and both goals came on free kicks,” said Henry.

Bellefontaine outscored its first two tournament opponents 9-0, but could not get anything going against the Red Devils.

“We just could not find many looks against their defense,” said Henry.

It was a physical game, especially in the second half. A Tippecanoe player was given a red card after one overly aggressive battle with a Bellefontaine player.

“I am really proud of the way our guys didn’t back down to their aggressiveness,” said Henry. “They didn’t back down, but they didn’t let it get out of hand either. I am always proud of the way our guys play.”

The loss brought a stellar season to an end for Bellefontaine. The Chiefs finished with an 11-4-3 record. They had the best goals against average (.89) in school history and also recorded the most shutouts (10) in program history.

Henry must now find a way to replace 11 graduating seniors. That group includes star goalkeeper Zach Gingerich.

“You can’t replace a guy like Zach,” said Henry. “He is the best goalkeeper I’ve ever coached, by far. He is going to leave some big shoes to fill.

“These seniors have been a unique group. They live and breathe soccer. To see these guys go is very tough. They might be the winningest class we’ve ever had here.”

Tippecanoe (13-3-3) advances to play Indian Hill in the district final Thursday at Bellbrook.

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