Chillicothe Cavaliers soccer
Brock Netter

Brock Netter

Brock is SOSA's primary writer and has worked for the Coshocton Tribune, the Kankakee Daily Journal (Ill.) and the Vinton-Jackson Courier. He's a two-time award-winning journalist, a lifelong WWE fan, a suffering Bengals fan and calls the sidelines his home.

Chillicothe blanks crosstown rival Unioto to stay undefeated

The Cavaliers scored four times in the second half.

Brock Netter, Staff Writer

Southern Ohio Sports Authority is presented by OhioHealth.

Chillicothe’s Haven Holmes helped the Cavaliers earn a 5-0 win over Unioto on Thursday.

CHILLICOTHE — “We’re all friends. We’ve grown up playing with and against one another. I’ll be standing right next to them and just talking. There is a rivalry and we’re all competitive, but after the game, we’re all hugging one another.” 

That quote from Chillicothe’s Kiera Archer sums up what it’s like being a part of the crosstown rivalry between the Cavaliers and Unioto. 

However, it’s been a bit one-sided over the last five matchups as the Cavaliers are now 3-0-2 against the Shermans in those meetings after Thursday’s 5-0 victory in non-conference action. 

“We came out really focused, but also a little tentative. Both teams play a little bit not to lose, especially early on,” Chillicothe coach Zach Breth said. “Part of our halftime speech was that you can either play not to lose or play to win. Once we had that talk, we went out and took the game.” 

The majority of the first half action was spent in Unioto’s territory as the Cavaliers (3-0-1) controlled ball possession and applied pressure defensively, so much in fact that Unioto (3-2) never took a shot throughout the first 40 minutes. 

On the other side, after two shots fell short of the goal, the Cavaliers’ third attempt to score was the charm. With the ball at Avery Erslan’s feet, she dribbled down the right side before sending a cross at the last possible second to find Haven Holmes, who used her body to inch the ball across the line for a 1-0 lead at halftime. 

PHOTOS: Images from Chillicothe’s win over Unioto

“Tactically, we were stopping too soon in the final third and we weren’t getting to that end line,” Breth said. “We want to get to the end line and get behind them. There were times we hit a wall at the top of the 18, playing square and taking shots from what we call the ‘No Fly Zone,’ which is like 25-30 feet out. Not many goals happen from that distance. You want to be 25 feet and in.” 

Adjustments were made on the Cavaliers’ side at the break, and it took less than four minutes for those to pay off. From a perfect through ball, Archer raced past the Shermans’ defense and found the bottom right corner to put Chillicothe ahead 2-0. 

Unioto managed to get its first two shots on goal, only for both of them to hit the crossbar and ricochet back onto the pitch.

It was that kind of night for Unioto, signaling the beginning of the end. However, the Cavaliers weren’t stopping anytime soon. 

With 18:48 left in the game, Ali Mathis had the ball at the top of the box and sent a perfect shot into the top left corner of the goal that extended the advantage to 3-0. 

Mathis and Archer each found the goal again on assists from Erslan and Simone Fluerima, putting the game on ice to remain undefeated on the season. 

“We wanted to keep Unioto pinned back, so the couple chances they got to shoot, we didn’t want many players being able to get forward,” Breth said. “The goal is to defend on their half of the field. To Unioto’s credit, they did a great job in the last 15-20 minutes of playing out when we had them pressed back. Their right wing back and center-mids played around us to get some good looks on goal.” 

Chillicothe returns to action on Saturday at home against Logan in non-conference action while Unioto turns its attention towards Zane Trace on Tuesday in SVC action. 

“This was a pretty important win for us heading into Saturday against Logan,” Mathis said. “We gained a lot of confidence and I think this win showed us that we’re able to play at a high level of intensity against a really good team. Logan has a number of really good players and we know we’re at that level where we can compete and win.”


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