The Delaware Christian School boys soccer team began its quest for its first district championship last Saturday against West Jefferson in the second round of the Division III district tournament.
The Eagles had a first-round bye and were seeded sixth. The winner will play a semifinal Wednesday at top-seeded Columbus Academy or Wellington. That semifinal winner will play host to the final Saturday against third-seeded Bloom-Carroll, Pleasant, Tree of Life or Village Academy.
"We've seen most of the teams and think we match up fairly well," coach Aaron Welsh said. "We haven't seen Bloom-Carroll, but we have played some common opponents to the same type of scores."
The Eagles reached a district final last season, losing at second-seeded Bloom-Carroll 5-0. This time, the Eagles would have home-field advantage.
But a potential matchup with the top seed looms before that. The Eagles beat Columbus Academy 1-0 on Oct. 11 as Austin Hill scored with about 22 minutes remaining.
"We played well, and both teams had scoring chances," Welsh said. "We got lucky a couple of times. But I think the game could potentially be very important for us. We proved we could play with them."
With both teams anticipating that possible tournament matchup, Welsh tried to change some things in the regular-season meeting.
"We tried to hide Austin Hill in the midfield, but with it being 0-0 at halftime, we decided it was more important to try for the win and confidence than it was to not give them a true look at us," he said. "They had a player not play against us, Peter Paras. He's one of their best. He scored their goal in a 1-1 tie against Worthington Christian (Sept. 15)."
The Vikings closed the regular season with a pair of 1-0 losses to Bexley on Oct. 9 and to the Eagles. They were 10-3-2 before playing Wellington last Saturday. Their other loss was to Big Walnut 1-0 on Sept. 6. They tied Jonathan Alder at 3 on Sept. 18.
Paras, a junior forward, was second on the team with 13 goals behind junior midfielder Andy Eldrige (15). Junior outside midfielder David Gantos and sophomore central-midfielder Gebby Keny had six goals.
Delaware Christian defeated Village Academy 3-1 on Aug. 28. The Eagles lost to Tree of Life 4-3 on Sept. 27 to finish second at 4-1 in the MOCAL behind the Trojans, who were 5-0. The Eagles have not played Bloom-Carroll or Pleasant.
Tree of Life was 11-4-2 before playing Village Academy last Saturday. The Trojans lost to Bloom-Carroll 7-2 in the opener Aug. 21 and followed by losing to Academy 4-1 on Aug. 25. They beat Pleasant 14-0 on Oct. 11.
Delaware Christian was led in the regular season by Hill (20 goals, 9 assists), Chase Evans (18 goals, 4 assists), Andrew Hartman (11 goals, 7 assists) and Truman Witt ( 5 goals, 5 assists).
"We moved Truman to the back on defense, where he played last season," Welsh said.
"He played well against Hartley (5-3 win on Oct. 6) and Columbus Academy and I think the defense seems to be more comfortable and confident now. We're starting to jell."/n