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John Bruce

John Bruce

Unioto clinches share of SVC title with shutout win over Zane Trace

Unioto clinched a second consecutive conference crown with a win over the Pioneers.

John Bruce, Contributor

CHILLICOTHE — Behind a dominating performance, the ROSSCO Cup will reside at Unioto for the fifth consecutive year. 

Unioto’s Emilio Cruz scored a goal in Monday’s 4-0 win over Zane Trace.
CREDIT: Derrick Webb/SOSA

The ROSSCO Cup, a match that has been played yearly between Unioto and Zane Trace since 1998, staying at Unioto was never in doubt on Monday as the Shermans coasted to a 4-0 victory over the visiting Pioneers. 

It wasn’t, however, the only thing up for grabs. A share of the SVC championship was in play as well.

Zane Trace, coming in at 3-0 in the SVC, held a half game lead over Unioto — 2-0 coming in — and could have locked up their second league title in three seasons with a win. However, it was clear early and often that the defending champs were in no mood to return the title or Cup back to the Pioneers.

“When I got here, [Unioto coach] Brandon [Hanes] set a precedent that we never lose in the SVC,” senior Ashton Sigler said. “So far, I’ve never lost in the SVC, and I don’t plan on losing in the SVC.”

The Tanks (9-2-1, 3-0 SVC) took the opening touch and slowly matriculated the ball down the field, picking their perfect moment for attack. The Shermans repeatedly tried to go towards the right side of the field, but when they switched course, they found success.

River Pettigrew attacked from the left wing, beat a man and played a pass to Emilio Cruz, where Cruz put the ball onto his left foot and scorched it into the far corner of the net to give the Tanks an early 1-0 lead. 

While the Pioneers sat back defensively to try and play the perfect counter-attack, the Shermans patiently moved the ball around, not even taking another shot until nearly 16 minutes after their opening goal.

At the 17:12 mark in the first half, senior Cameron Kendrick streaked down the right sideline before playing a low cross in towards the six-yard box. That’s where sophomore Lucas Hanes beat his double team to the ball and deposited it into the netting for a 2-0 lead that would hold up going into the half. 

“[Zane Trace] put two guys on me but left the outside open,” Hanes said. “So we could just run guys right through, cross it in and get our chances,” Hanes said. “

Zane Trace (8-4, 3-1 SVC) was unable to garner much of an offensive attack in the opening half with the excellent offense of Ethan Nelson and Ivan Chavez being thwarted by the Shermans’ defense of Sigler, Asher McBee, Cameron Thompson, Joe Lafreniere and Ricardo Arredondo.

However, the Pioneers had to be happy with defensive showings from of Jordan Harrington, Rece Allen and Brayden Jarrell, who were holding up against the vaunted Shermans’ attack. 

After being outshot 9-0 in the first half, the Pioneers began to up their offensive pressure with Chavez and Nelson each nearly breaking through the defense before being stymied by the Tanks’ pressure. With 17:30 left in the game, Nelson was able to find the back of the net, however, he was called to be offside when the pass was played to him. 

Unioto’s attack seemed to be getting frustrated by their lack of a third goal, settling on a variety of long distance shots that ZT freshman goalkeeper Judah Hanks was able to parry away consistently. Nonetheless, the Shermans would not be denied for the remainder of the game, as Hanes was credited for his second goal of the night with 11:33 left to play as his left-footed shot was just able to get past Hanks and over the line for a 3-0 lead. 

Unioto’s Asher McBee was imperative to the Tanks’ defensive effort on Monday in a shutout win over Zane Trace.
CREDIT: Derrick Webb/SOSA

With 5:32 to play, Kendrick put a capper on the night after Hanes returned the earlier favor and he finished from in front of the net for the final goal and a 4-0 victory. 

In the final minutes, the Pioneers did not let up and eventually had their first shot on goal, but Unioto’s Micah Geise was able to calmly collect it for his first, and only, save of the night. 

“We remained calm,” Sigler said. “We knew coming out that [Zane Trace] would probably play more defensive. So we just played our game at our speed. It was just making sure nothing got through. One major thing is communication. We definitely lacked that today. It’s something we can work on.”

The win for Unioto gives them a share of their second consecutive SVC championship while seniors Sigler, Kendrick, McBee, Lafreniere and Antonio Cruz end their careers undefeated against their rivals from Kinnkinnick. 

Zane Trace will be off until next Monday when they host Circleville while Unioto welcomes in Waverly on Thursday.

SPONSORED BY TERRELL FAIRROW — ERA

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