West Holmes

Knights grab sectional title berth

West Holmes' goalkeeper Drew Campbell corrals a shot during the Knights' 2-0 tourney win over West M. ---- Lori Kowatch Photo

With a 2-0 win over West Muskingum on Oct. 15 the West Holmes Knights boys’ soccer team is headed to the sectional championship game of Div. II’s Eastern District.

The Knights will now face the Minerva Lions at Minerva HS on Saturday, Oct. 22 at 4 p.m. for a chance to bring home the first ever sectional title in the program’s history. The Lions defeated Coshocton on Oct. 15 by the score of 3-2 to set up the date with West Holmes.

Dave Zimmerly, West Holmes’ third-year coach, has won the first game of the tournament the last two years, but that pesky second game win has eluded him and the Knights.

Now with a winning record in tow (8-7-1) West Holmes hopes to push that win total up one more and stay alive in the tourney and go where no team before them as gone.

And it was a strong second half against West M. on Saturday that propelled them to the next round.

During the first half on Saturday Zimmerly was highly frustrated with his team’s effort, despite being up 1-0 at the break, and let his players know about it during his halftime speech. The result of the pep talk was just what Zimmerly had hoped for because his Knights went out and played even better in the second half and kept the pressure on as the Tornadoes showed no urgency to get forward and find an equalizer.

“We didn’t do the little things right in the first half and then in the second half we executed a little better,” Zimmerly said.

After the first half, Zimmerly addressed his team with vigor.

“I was frustrated the whole first half. We were like a turnover brigade,” Zimmerly said.

Leading 1-0, the Knights were the aggressor in half number two as they pelted the West M. goal with free kicks, corner kicks and run-of-play chances. It was in the game’s 49th minute when Cole Guerra connected with Leonardo Calienno who banged a shot off a defender and into the Tornadoes’ goal for the 2-0 lead. (video)

“Once we got the second goal I thought we may get a third,” Zimmerly said. “We were really starting to hit the flags with our passes. They were the team down two goals, yet we were the ones putting more pressure on them.”

That’s a good sign that Zimmerly’s halftime speech worked when his team went out and peppered the goal early and often in the second half and got the insurance goal.

Zimmerly said Guerra’s solid passing accuracy is why he was taking most all of the Knights’ free kicks and corner kicks.

“He can play the ball at any pace and is very accurate,” Zimmerly said about Guerra. “He can do a lot of certain things well and he serves some great balls. That is his strength.”

The Knights got the 1-0 lead in the 19th minute of the game when Brady Campbell made a sick move around a defender and found the feet of freshman Grant Miller who buried a goal to put the Knights ahead.

“Grant has been fantastic,” said Zimmerly. “I can’t say enough about that kid. He works hard every day in practice. He’s going to be something in the next few years. Also it was a great play by Brady (Campbell).”

In goal senior Drew Campbell got the shutout making three saves. West Holmes out-shot the Tornadoes by a 19-6 count and 14 of those shots came in the second half for the Knights.

Pitch Points.

1. Danny Drummond, a West Holmes senior who is know for is long flowing golden hair, cut his hair. He was nearly unrecognizable. Drummond entered the game in the last 10 minutes and got a lot of love from the Knights’ fans and the West Holmes bench.

2. Up 2-0, Zimmerly moved all-world player Zach Buchanan back to a holding midfielder position. A brilliant move as the senior held the shape of the Knights’ formation together and helped preserve the shutout on defense.

3. Leonardo Calienno is a junior exchange student from Italy playing for the Knights this year. As a striker he does an amazing job at working back as a defender and trying to win the ball back.

“Leo gets lit when he loses the ball,” Zimmerly said.

4. West M. had its best chance to score with seven minutes left in the first half. However Erik King’s point-blank chance sailed high over Campbell’s cross bar. If the game’s 1-1 at the half it may have changed everything.

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