Grandview Heights High School boys soccer coach James Gerdes had an inkling that his team’s season would come down to one game, and that game would be against Cincinnati Summit Country Day.
The second-ranked Bobcats faced the top-ranked Silver Knights in a Division III state semifinal Nov. 8 at Xenia and lost 3-2 to finish 17-1-4 overall.
Gerdes believed the matchup was a de facto state championship game.
“We knew for a long time that this class of seniors was extremely talented and they were working extremely hard for this and that in all likelihood we thought the season would come down to this game,” he said. “I honestly believed that the winner of this game would go on and win the state final.
“We left it all out there tonight and we at least gave a good account of ourselves. That’s one thing I said is to not have any regrets, and I don’t think we have one for the entire season. We lost the game by one goal and it’s the only one we lost all season.”
Summit Country Day went on to defeat third-ranked Toledo Ottawa Hills 1-0 for the championship Nov. 11 at Mapfre Stadium.
The Bobcats scored just 1 minute, 36 seconds into the semifinal on a header by senior defender Ben Kelley, but Doug Simpson scored the first of his two goals for the Silver Knights with 34:15 left in the first half to tie the game.
Senior forward Wes Ryan scored from 25 yards out with 3:49 to play in the first half as Grandview took a 2-1 lead into halftime.
Diego Vallota scored for Summit Country Day with 24:18 left in the second half, and Simpson added his second goal with 21:00 remaining.
Senior goalkeeper Jake Kelley had 12 saves.
“It was a frenzied game,” said Gerdes, who completed his second season. “Our game plan was to try to slow them down because they are such an athletic team.
“There are some fine margins when you play against good teams. They made one fewer mistake than we did, and they moved on. They deserved it and they were a good team.”
The Bobcats won their two regional games by a combined score of 13-0 and outscored their postseason opponents 30-1 before the state semifinal. The only goal they allowed in the district tournament came in a 4-1 victory over Grove City Christian in the final Oct. 28 at Gahanna.
They defeated Zoarville Tuscarawas Valley 7-0 in a regional semifinal Nov. 1 at Lexington and beat South Webster 6-0 in a regional final Nov. 4 at Waverly.
In district play, top-seeded Grandview defeated 19th-seeded Cristo Rey 8-0 on Oct. 18 and 11th-seeded Tree of Life 5-0 in a semifinal Oct. 24 before earning its fourth consecutive district championship with the win over second-seeded Grove City Christian.
The Bobcats finished second (2-0-3) in the MSL-Ohio Division behind Columbus Academy (3-0-2) and ahead of Bexley (2-1-2), Whitehall (2-2-1), Worthington Christian (1-2-2) and London (0-5).
Ryan, a four-year starter, was named district Player of the Year and first-team all-state and all-league.
“I think we played really well as a team and we worked really hard,” said Ryan, who had 36 goals and 15 assists. “It’s gone by really fast but every minute has been enjoyable.”
Senior forward Indigo London (7 goals, 7 assists) was first-team all-district and all-league and second-team all-state, and senior forward Eli Evans (5 goals, 9 assists) and Ben Kelley (7 goals, 3 assists) were honorable mention all-league.
Defenders Jonah Bode, Dylan Gerdes and Ben Murphy and midfielders Christian Lynch (2 goals, 1 assist) and Johnny Volker (4 goals, 4 assists) rounded out the senior class.
“This senior class has been great with a lot of big personalities,” coach Gerdes said. “At times, it’s been hard to accommodate all of the seniors. I felt we were getting stronger as the season went on, but just fell short of the last hurdle.”
Junior forward Manny Day (second-team all-league; 28 goals, 21 assists) is expected to be the top returning scoring threat along with his sophomore brother, midfielder Ross Day (3 goals, 11 assists). Also expected to return are junior midfielder Sam Freeman (7 goals, 2 assists), junior midfielder Joel Samuels and sophomore goalie Lance Trares.