Alex Erslan
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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.

Chillicothe continues winning ways, sprints past Unioto in second half

The Cavaliers scored four times in the second half.

Derrick Webb, Staff Writer

Southern Ohio Sports Authority is presented by OhioHealth.

CHILLICOTHE — Three games into this season, Chillicothe sat at 0-3 and had surrendered 26 goals in those three contests.

From the outside looking in, the prognosis didn’t look good.

Chillicothe’s Ali Mathis started the scoring for the Cavaliers on Thursday.
CREDIT: Derrick Webb/SOSA

But inside the Cavaliers’ locker room, there was no doubt and no frustration. Instead, behind their experienced leaders, coach Zach Breth’s team was steadfast in crossing off its goals.

“We started out with a pretty tough schedule, playing against some of our Central District, Division I opponents,” Breth said. “That’s while doing a lot of new things with a lot of new players, making adjustments and working some things out. We felt like we had to learn a lot really fast, but we were also a little caught off guard by that. But across the board, the girls handled it well. Morale was still high and we were still together, as a team.”

Chillicothe’s first three matches were against Logan, Canal Winchester and Big Walnut — three teams with a combined record of 14-6-2 and three who habitually play against big-city talent.

Since, the Cavaliers (3-3) have righted the ship.

Following wins over Washington and Miami Trace, they continued to flip the script on Thursday evening with a dominant 4-0 win over Unioto.

“It’s been really fun, honestly,” Breth said. “We have some players with very little experience and we went into game one with two girls that had never played soccer before. So it’s fun and rewarding, and at the same time, we’ve got some pretty high-level players. So you want to make sure that you’re pushing them to get better while bringing the others along. It’s been fun. Our experienced players have taken that on and have really helped the others.”

PHOTOS: Images from Chillicothe’s win over Unioto

One of the team’s high-level players led Thursday’s charge.

Senior Ali Mathis, as usual, seemed to be everywhere. However, she couldn’t break into the scoring column until early in the second half because of the outstanding play of Unioto goalkeeper Maya Free.

Throughout the first 40 minutes, Free, at times, single-handedly kept her Shermans (3-1) in the game.

But after a halftime discussion that centered around how to better find the goal, Mathis finally beat Free with a right-footed rocket that graced the netting at the 37:09 mark.

“[Free] was fantastic,” Breth said. “She reads the game really well and her positioning is excellent. She caught things that, over the years, she may not have. She’s figured it out and she’s judging the ball in the air better. She’s tough to beat. She had a great night tonight.”

Following Mathis’ goal, Alex Erslan volunteered to score next — twice.

The sophomore’s first goal came with 14:10 left. It was a header off a corner with an assist from Kiera Archer and one Breth and his coaching staff had been waiting to see.

“It was a great night for her,” Breth said of Erslan. “I’m on the sideline thinking, ‘We’ve got to become more dangerous on corners.’ But you don’t have practice to do that. So it takes somebody showing up in the box with enthusiasm and attacking the ball. We finally got one.”

A little over 10 minutes later, Erslan struck again for a 3-0 score at the 3:43 mark before Archer polished off the night, netting a goal with just two seconds left.

While Unioto attempts to bounce back from its first loss on Saturday, hosting Jackson, the Cavaliers look to make it four straight wins on Tuesday against McClain.

“We have to keep getting experience to the players that haven’t played before,” Breth said. “Tonight, Alyssa Dudley was fantastic and she’s never played varsity soccer before this year. She’s completely new to it. So every game has been a new and different challenge to her, and that goes all the way down the roster. We’re learning and growing. We just gotta keep that up.”


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