BLUFFTON — In a matchup between two state-ranked boys soccer teams, it sometimes comes down to the little things, that determine the outcome.
However, Bluffton did much more than what the final score indicated, as it slipped past Kenton for a 2-0 nonconference victory at Steinmetz Field Thursday night.
Bluffton (No. 3, Division III) held Kenton (No. 8, Division II) to just three clean shots on goal.
For most of the contest, Bluffton kept Kenton’s attackers away from the box.
Bluffton, on the other hand, took nine shots on goal. Kenton goalkeeper Brent Rader, was stellar, as he turned away seven of those Bluffton shots.
With the victory, Bluffton improves to 6-0-1 overall. Kenton slips to 6-1-2 on the season.
“Defensively, it’s been a struggle for us – just keeping other teams out of the net,” Bluffton head coach Steve Smucker said. “We did a great job tonight. I’m not quite sure what the difference was. Kenton is a very strong team. … I’m just very pleased with our effort tonight.”
Bluffton did not record its first goal on the night, until 1:33 left in the first half. Kaden Basil scored off a rebound from a shot taken by teammate Thad Mittendorf. For the game, Basil took three shots on goal.
About 15 minutes into the contest, Basil just missed scoring, when he received a nice cross from Jonathan Schriner and attempted a header. However, the shot by Basil was off.
The Pirates got their second goal at the 17:14 mark of the second half, when Jude Spallinger drove one past Rader from about 12 yards out.
“Kenton plays really strong defense,” Smucker said. “They made it very difficult for us to find space in the box. Credit to them, their keeper, their backs – they would not quit. I told our guys that sometimes it just comes down to persistence – off a toe, off a heel – and that could be the difference in the game.”
Bluffton goalkeeper Nic Essinger, came up with three saves.
For the game, Kenton took four corner kicks, while Bluffton took three.
Smucker said it was a good win for his team. However, he said there is no time to rest on its laurels
“It is (a confidence booster), but we have Ashland on Saturday,” Smucker said. “We have Ottawa Hills and Allen East next week. We have Shawnee coming up too. So, we’re trying to continually talk to our guys about what it takes to play at a high level. The key is consistency. … That’s the hardest part.
“We want to see the best teams in season, so when we get into postseason, we have already seen some of the best teams.”
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.