John Bruce, Contributor
Lucasville — Sept. 11, 2012. Sept. 12, 2019. 42.
Two dates and one number … all of which are now meaningless thanks to Valley’s 3-0 win over Wheelersburg on Tuesday night.
The Indians (3-0) had not defeated Wheelersburg since Sept. 11, 2012 while Wheelersburg had not lost a regular season game since Sept. 12, 2019. The Pirates had also not been shut out in their past 42 regular season games.
All of those went out the window in a dominant performance by the Indians.
In the early going, both teams seemed to be feeling each other out, with neither taking a shot for the opening 17 minutes.
At that point, Wheelersburg’s Max Hagans made a couple of nice moves at the top of the box to get the ball to his deadly left foot, but Valley’s Chris Queen would make the first of his seven saves to deny the sophomore.
Less than six minutes later, the Indians broke through on their first shot attempt of the night when Chase Ruby scorched a ball into the bottom left-hand corner to put the purple and gold up 1-0. Lucie Ashkettle would be credited with the assist, as the junior threaded the needle to Ruby to give him space to get his shot off.
“Offensively, we were passing really well,” Ashkettle said. “Our one-twos were on, our through-balls were there. It was just the weight of our passes and then, we got through.”
Each team got one more quality look at the goal in the opening half.
Ruby once again sent in a hot shot, but the Pirates’ Gavin Rase laid out to his left to deflect the shot wide with around 11 minutes left in the half. The Pirates got their best chance of the evening when Connor Estep sent in a cross that was just outside the reach of Rase’s heading attempt, which would have tied the game heading into halftime.
Throughout the first half, both teams’ midfielders played a key role in the match, with Valley’s Ashkettle, Bryce Stuart, Chase Powell, Davey Petry and Austin Sommers playing balls with pace and quick touches. Meanwhile, Wheelersburg’s Hagans, Jacob Saxby, Nathan Sylvia and Jackson Schwamburger attempted to go wide and through the Valley backline.
But neither team was able to gain much traction with the shots being even in the first half. However, the Indians were ahead on the scoreboard.
The second half was a completely different story.
Less than four minutes into the action, Ashkettle connected with Austin Sommers, who calmly waited for his defender to go past him and sent a rocket into the right-side netting to put the Indians ahead 2-0.
Over the following 25 minutes, the Indians completely dominated all facets of the game. The defense of JR Holbrook, MJ Basham, Colt Buckle and Braxton Dillow — in his first start — would be rock solid, not allowing Wheelersburg a true clean look at the goal.
“Braxton really stepped up. He’s never started,” Ashkettle said. “He came out and won balls out of the air.”
The victory for the Indians would be finished off with 22 minutes to play on a bit of bad luck for the Pirates. Valley charged down the left sideline and sent a cross into the middle that the Pirates’ defense appeared to head away. But it ended up being headed into the side netting for an own goal and a 3-0 lead for Valley.
The Pirates continued to push forward, getting a couple of looks at the goal but Queen would parry them away to keep the shutout going.
“We wanted to stop [Wheelersburg’s] Max [Hagans] and keep him off his left foot,” Queen said postgame. “It was nothing much other than that. Our defense was really solid tonight. We played really well.”
As time ran down, the anticipation of the major win for the Valley program was mounting on the sideline and in the stands. When the clock hit all zeroes, the Indians’ bench and crowd exploded with joy, celebrating the ending of several longtime streaks for the Wheelersburg program.
The Indians return to action on Thursday as they travel to Rosemount to battle Clay while the Pirates are off until Tuesday when they host Minford.
“No one should stop us,” Ashkettle said. “We’re just going to keep going and keep putting goals up and stop goals.”
Shots: Valley 9, Wheelersburg 10
Shots on Goal: Valley 6, Wheelersburg 7
Fouls: Valley 13, Wheelersburg 5
Cautions: Valley 1, Wheelersburg 0
Corner Kicks: Valley 4, Wheelersburg 2
Offsides: Valley 2, Wheelersburg 1
Saves: Valley 7 (Queen), Wheelersburg 4 (Rase)
17:17 – Chase Ruby (1st), assist – Lucie Ashkettle (1st) – 1-0 V
36:44 – Austin Sommers (4th), assist – Ashkettle (2nd) – 2-0 V
22:00 – Own Goal – 3-0 V