ELIDA — Seth Mahlmeister and his seventh-grade friends watched Elida in the regional two years ago.
This time the freshman Mahlmeister will be right on the front line.
Mahlmeister scored two goals to power Elida to a 2-0 victory over Kenton in the Division II boys soccer district championship Thursday.
Mahlmeister, who is closing in on 20 goals this year, has four goals in his last two tournament games.
“I knew a lot of players from that team (two years ago),” Mahlmeister said. “It was a good atmosphere.’’
Elida (18-1), the Western Buckeye League champion, will meet Sandusky at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Findlay High School in the regional semifinals.
“It’s amazing,” Elida senior sweeper Riley Bartels said. “It’s been a goal of mine since I was a sophomore on that 2015 team. I’m so glad we are back.’’
Kenton, the WBL runner-up, ends its year 16-2-1.
Elida played the match without starting midfielder Corbin Fingerle (hamstring) and lost starting defender Keagan Layman (hyperextended knee) 14 minutes into the match.
Taking over in the back for Fingerle were midfielders Cody Gay and Joe Davis. Along with stopper Max Parker, defender Cade Parker and Bartels, the team was a wall in the back.
“We’ve built our team on that defense,” Elida coach Tom Thomas said. “That’s our 14th shutout of the season. … And we took a shot tonight. We had one our senior defenders go down with an injury in the first half and our boys rallied.
“It was about containment and that’s what we did tonight.’’
The Elida defense never let Kenton scorers Landon Bartlett, Hayden Hicks and Drew Hoppe get loose on meaningful breakaways.
“They are talented guys,” Bartels said. “I’m comfortable with whoever’s beside me and if we work as a unit we can keep the sheet clean. It’s a matter of talking and trusting one another.
“I’m out there directing traffic and we had two experienced guys (Joe Davis and Cody Gay) who had played defense before and that’s what makes them special. They’re versatile and can step back if they have to.’’
Mahlmeister scored on a rebound after his own shot came on a breakaway. Jake Taylor knocked the ball to Mahlmeister just into the offensive zone.
Mahlmeister zig-zagged his way around one defender and into the 18-yard box. He fired from 12-yards out, but Luke Woodruff got his hand on the ball, but couldn’t control it.
Mahlmeister flicked in the rebound shot with 23:59 left in the first half.
“I beat one defender and the keeper made an amazing save,” Mahlmeister said.
The second goal came in the second half off a throw-in by Noah Davis.
Mahlmeister settled the throw just inside the 18. He then spun and fired a low liner into the lower-right corner of the net.
That gave Elida a 2-0 lead with 33:01 to go.
The match was physical the whole way and the referee stepped in and warned several players and both teams.
By the end, Kenton was given two yellow cards and one red. Elida was handed two yellows.
Elida outshot Kenton 9-6 overall and 4-1 in the second half.
Elida goalkeeper Caleb Jones had four saves for his 14th shutout.
Luke Woodruff had four saves for Kenton.
Elida had the edge on corner kicks, 9-3.
“They’re playing as a team right now and they’re playing for each other, and that’s why I’m so proud of them,” Thomas said.
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.