John Bruce, Contributor
FRENCHTOWN — On their senior night, Unioto’s Kylee Bethel and Sophia Garza put on a show for the Sherman faithful.
The midfielders combined for eight goals and five assists in Unioto’s 14-0 win over Southeastern, a win that clinched a third consecutive Scioto Valley Conference championship.
“I’ve had many bumps and bruises coming out of these games, but I put my heart into them and suddenly, it’s all worth it,” Bethel said after her career-best outing. “Tonight, I came out goal-hungry and so did a lot of the girls.”
Bethel scored all five of her goals in the first 27 minutes, assisted on Garza’s first goal of the match and added her second assist on a goal from Micah Hagen in the second half. Garza added two more goals and assisted on three others, with only one of those connecting with Bethel.
The senior duo spread the wealth amongst their teammates as the Shermans (7-5-1, 4-0 SVC) cruised to another SVC title.
Abi Seals, Avery Miller, Ashtyn Miller, Erin Callahan, and Arielle Pelletier also added goals. Senior Jeyla Wilson added two assists, while Pelletier, Jaidyn McKell, and the Miller sisters also had helpers.
Unioto dominated the action from the opening kickoff, holding Southeastern (4-8, 1-2 SVC) without a shot over the course of the game, which kept junior goalkeeper Sydney Free out of the action for the most part.
However, it was Free’s first on-field action in two weeks after suffering an injury in training.
“I am so excited to be back on the field,” Free said after the shutout. “I’m very competitive, so it was hard for me to miss those games and not be able to contribute. Tonight was a great game and I was so happy to be back out there with my team.”
While Free was out of action, Hagen, a sophomore, did a nice job in between the pipes, helping the Shermans to a 2-1-1 record over those four games.
Unioto’s normally stout defense of McKell, Seals, and Allie Cox, along with Jaylah Kennedy, stood tall with their second consecutive shutout.
“The defense is coming together through communication,” Cox said. “If our defensive line talks and works hard, we believe that not one ball can get by us. We are looking to build on back-to-back shutouts by moving, talking, and connecting passes.”
The second half featured a special moment as Unioto had five sets of siblings on the field at the same time. The Garza’s (Sophia and Natalie), McKell’s (XiXi and Jaidyn), Miller’s (Avery and Ashtyn), Robinson’s (Brandy and Julia), and the Wilson’s (Jeyla and Jami) all shared the pitch.
In a dominating league championship season, Unioto outscored their SVC counterparts 40-2 over the course of four league games.
Following the game, Unioto held Senior Night to celebrate their five seniors: Bethel, Garza, Kennedy, XiXi McKell, and Jeyla Wilson.
When asked about winning the SVC, Free said, “I am so proud of our team for winning our third straight SVC title. We have been able to build every year and I have gotten to play with so many talented and dedicated people in the past three years.”
Abi Seals added, “To win the Gold Ball again is so surreal. I couldn’t wish for a better team, because we encourage one another on and off the field, which I think carries over to help us do well as a team.”
Unioto will be back in action on Thursday as they travel to Logan, while Southeastern hosts Gallia Academy on Wednesday.
Bethel wanted to add one last piece of advice to her teammates, “Now tonight, it finally hit me that my soccer career was coming to an end. And all of the time that I’ve spent with all of the girls, getting to know each one of them was almost over. I just wanted to say to take in every moment ladies, because when you have to hang up your cleats for the last time, you’ll want to remember all of those good times.”
38:30 — Kylee Bethel (Avery Miller)
35:16 — Av. Miller (Arielle Pelletier)
34:53 — Pelletier (Sophia Garza)
29:06 — Garza (Bethel)
28:13 — Bethel (Jeyla Wilson)
19:18 — Bethel (Wilson)
15:33 — Bethel (Ashtyn Miller)
13:46 — Bethel
13:09 — Garza
11:14 — Abi Seals (Garza)
34:40 — Garza
32:45 — Erin Callahan (Garza)
12:45 — Ash. Miller (Jaidyn McKell)
5:00 — Micah Hagen (Bethel)
SVC Soccer History
2019 — Unioto (4-0-0)
2018 — Unioto (4-0-0)
2017 — Unioto (3-1-0)