By Steve Freeze
MONROE — The Bellbrook High School boys soccer team was unable to get a leg up on an outright Southwestern Buckeye League title, but they are still tied for first with Monroe (6-4-2, 6-1-2 SWBL Southwestern Division) following a 1-1 draw at Monroe High School on Tuesday night, and in line for at least a share of a 25th consecutive league crown.
The Golden Eagles have at least shared the SWBL title every year since 1991.
For Monroe, it was a sign of the growth they have made since a 3-0 loss to Bellbrook on Sept. 15th.
“When you think about the last game,” said Hornets coach Michael Oster, “You can’t ask for much more. These kids played their hearts out.”
The Golden Eagles used a very high attacking line for their wingers to begin the game and all the pressure belonged to them. But, Monroe was able to absorb it and jumped out to a 1-0 lead with just under 23:00 remaining in the opening half.
Hunter Graves’ throw-in found Charly Gonzales, who calmly settled it at his feet and struck past Bellbrook goalkeeper Caleb McConnell against the run of play.
“Unfortunately, we made it a little harder on ourselves than we should have,” said Bellbrook coach Kevin Terrell. “We felt we could keep enough pressure on them with the three-high attack.”
The Hornets began to play with seemingly more confidence at that point, but Eagles’ leading scorer Drew Klepacz leveled it with his seventh goal with 1:04 left in the half.
Bellbrook took a throw-in from the far left side, quickly crossed to the right side of the box and Klepacz was able to tap it in.
“(Alex) Moore was playing perfect balls in all night,” said Klepacz. “That one was a great cross and we were finally able to get one in.”
On the defensive end, Bellbrook did a great job of neutralizing Monroe’s main threat, Ryan Davis, who entered the game with 13 goals but was kept off the score sheet in this one.
“(Bellbrook) marked him out a little,” said Oster. “Really they did a good job of marking out both of our center forwards.”
Bellbrook will try to keep pace for the league title at home against Oakwood on Thursday. They defeated the Lumberjacks, 2-0, on Sept. 20th.
“We have bigger goals in the (state) tournament,” said Terrell. “But to do that you have to take care of business in the league, first. Luckily we have three more league games to firm that up.”
Monroe next hosts Hamilton-Badin on Thursday in a non-league contest.
Steve Freeze is a freelance writer for Civitas Media.