The Worthington Christian High School boys soccer team didn't get many scoring opportunities when it played Cincinnati Summit Country Day on Aug. 25, but it took advantage of two and won 2-0.
Those were two of only five goals that Summit Country Day allowed in 22 games this season. The teams met again in a Division III state semifinal Nov. 7 at Centerville, and it was the Silver Knights who executed better in the rematch en route to beating the Warriors 3-0.
Summit Country Day defeated Gates Mills Hawken 2-0 in the state final Nov. 10 at Crew Stadium to finish 19-2-1.
The loss snapped Worthington Christian's three-year streak of reaching the state final, a run in which it won championships in 2009 and last season and was the runner-up in 2010.
"The first time we played them, we literally had two chances and got two goals," senior midfielder Albert Miller said. "They were definitely strong defensively. This was a great team and we knew it would be hard to bring them down. There were a few times that we got behind their defense, but we just couldn't put it in their net. We had two or three solid chances."
"(Summit Country Day has) a great team," coach Dan Roads said. "They have 10 seniors on that team and they play really strong defense. They gave up five goals all season, and two of them were to us. They always do a great job and are well-organized."
Worthington Christian, which was making its eighth consecutive appearance in the state tournament, finished 13-6-3.
Despite losing five of their final seven regular-season games, the Warriors cruised through the district tournament as the top seed, beating Marion Pleasant 9-0 in the second round Oct. 20, 10th-seeded Fairbanks 5-0 in a semifinal Oct. 24 and sixth-seeded Tree of Life 4-0 in a final Oct. 27 at Westerville Central.
Worthington Christian then defeated Peebles 7-0 in a regional semifinal Oct. 31 at Bloom-Carroll and beat Berlin Hiland 4-2 in a regional final Nov. 3 at Zanesville before falling to Summit Country Day.
The Warriors lose six seniors, including twin brothers Albert and George Miller and Quinn Miller, who is not related to Albert and George. All three had been key players since they were freshmen.
Quinn Miller finished the season with five goals, Albert Miller had eight goals and eight assists and George Miller had three goals and seven assists.
The only other seniors who saw significant playing time were Riley Windsor (3 goals) and Thomas Holman (3 goals, 1 assist). Senior Robbie Beitman sustained a season-ending injury in late August.
"At the end of the (loss to Summit Country Day) we were obviously disappointed," Albert Miller said. "We were playing some phenomenal soccer at the end of the season. You want to grow and get better at the end of a season and we absolutely did that."
Worthington Christian lost a seven-member senior class after going 18-4-1 last season. Included in that group was Wright State University freshman Brett Elder, who was the ThisWeek Super 12 captain a year ago and was named Horizon League Newcomer of the Year this fall after having nine goals and three assists.
The Warriors expect to return junior defenders Mason Highman (5 goals), Mark Parsell and Isaac Sayre and sophomore goalkeeper Jake Kress. Sophomore Wes Murray also gained experience in goal.
Also expected back are juniors Sam Condon, Jay Trainer and Sam Trautman, sophomores Ben Davison, Ryan Dickenson, Kameron Early, Reed Klass, J.J. Phillips and Trent Strick and freshmen Zac Herbs, Joe Long and Graham Montgomery.
Condon had a team-best 22 goals and six assists. Long had seven goals and three assists and Phillips had four goals.
"I think we're strong for next year," said Roads, who has compiled an 84-20-11 record in five seasons leading the program. "We started four juniors, two sophomores and one freshman, so every position is pretty much covered. They're all eager to fill their roles next year."