Unioto soccer
Derrick Webb

Derrick Webb

Derrick is SOSA's chief content coordinator and has worked for the Chillicothe Gazette, the Portsmouth Daily Times and Eleven Warriors. He's a 13-time award-winning journalist, a self-proclaimed baseball purist, a suffering Bengals fan and has never met a stranger.

STATE SOCCER PREVIEW: Unioto readying for Wyoming in DII state semifinal

Unioto will meet with Cincinnati Wyoming in a Division II state semifinal at 7 p.m., Wednesday.

Derrick Webb, Staff Writer

CHILLICOTHE — For the second time in school history, Unioto will be making a Final 4 appearance.

Coach Brandon Hanes’ group earned that right with a 2-1 win over Athens this past Saturday after using a Lucas Hanes-led offensive attack alongside a swarming defense to advance through sectional, district and regional play.

The Shermans (16-3-2) will now meet Cincinnati Wyoming (18-2-2) in a Division II state semifinal at 7 p.m., Wednesday at Teays Valley High School.

Here’s everything you need to know before that matchup happens: 

Fast facts …

Wednesday’s match marks Unioto’s first appearance in a Final 4 since 2004, a year where the Shermans fell to Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy by a 3-1 final. Wyoming is playing in its first-ever state semifinal after a 3-1 win over previously undefeated Oakwood in a regional final. The Cowboys play in a superb conference with each of the Cincinnati Hills League’s top four teams posting at least 14 wins — a combined record of 65-12-8. Madeira won the CHL and will be competing in a Division III state semifinal. Wyoming tied with Madeira, 1-1, on Oct. 12. During the Cowboys’ tournament run, they’ve outscored their opponents 31-2 — a list that includes Tippecanoe (16-3-1), Bishop Hartley (12-8-1) and Dayton Oakwood (20-1-0). Meanwhile, the Shermans have bested their postseason opponents by a 14-4 margin while navigating their way through and incredible deep district and regional bracket — a list that includes Alexander (13-3-2), Marietta (16-1-2), St. Clairsville (17-4) and Athens (13-4-4).

Unioto’s Lucas Hanes scored all five of the team’s goals in regional tournament action.

Four names to know …

Defensively, you’re not going to find many better than Unioto’s Cameron Thompson. He’s a central reason why the Shermans have allowed just 19 goals all year long — a 0.90 goal per game average. Speaking of defense, Unioto goalkeeper Micah Geise is top notch. The junior has pitched nine shutouts this fall and has consistently shown his ability to make impossible saves indeed possible. Wyoming senior Owen Vickers leads the Cowboys in scoring with 15 goals and eight assists. But he’s far from the Cowboys’ only option — the team has a balanced attack that features five names in double-digit scoring figures. Fellow senior Sebastian Sinigaglia is a part of that group with 10 goals and 12 assists. While his teammates are busy finding the back of the net, Cowboys keeper Noah Popovitz is protecting his own. The junior has an .841 save percentage and has tallied 69 saves in 22 games.

Potential X-factors …

Stopping Vickers and Sinigaglia will be tough because of teammates Simon Marques, Paul Rutherford and Louie Trenkamp, a trio that has given Wyoming a combined 34 goals and 23 assists this season. Any of those three names are absolutely capable of beating the defense and the keeper. The Cowboys have weapons all over the field. That’s a good problem to have. As for the Shermans, Kamden Smith has also provided scoring in spurts this season. The sophomore has scored 12 times and has passed out nine assists. Antonio Cruz is another name to keep on your radar. The midfielder has controlled the pace of play, has the ability to win any 50-50 ball and is constantly making his presence known.

What Unioto needs to do to win …

While Hanes has shouldered the brunt of this year’s scoring responsibilities — he’s totaled 37 goals and 18 assists — the Shermans may have to rely on someone else to find the back of the net. Wyoming is well aware of Hanes’ stud status. If Unioto can get scoring contributions from anyone not named Lucas Hanes, the chance to advance increases exponentially. Having said that, scoring early could be the key to a state championship berth. If Unioto dents the scoreboard in the early going, it can then rely on a defense that has been magnificent all year long to hold off Wyoming’s attack.

What Wyoming needs to do to win …

Other than contain Lucas Hanes? Wyoming will have to account for River Pettigrew in the midfield. The talented sophomore creates havoc when he’s given space. If the Cowboys can smother him and his running mate, they’re off to a good start. Wyoming will also have to find a way to frustrate the Shermans’ back line. Led by senior Ashton Sigler, the unit has been solid all year long. Ultimately, that’s why Unioto is playing at this level. If Vickers and company can put pressure on the Shermans’ defense, and possess the ball, good things will come to pass.

SOSA will have full coverage from Unioto’s state tournament appearance on Wednesday. You can follow live in-game updates at both @dw1509 and @SOSAOhio.

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