The attitude of the Circleville boys soccer team on Wednesday following a 2-2 Mid-State League Buckeye Division draw against host Hamilton Township shows the progress the program is making.
The Tigers are no longer satisfied with moral victories.
“The result wasn’t what we wanted and it stung afterwards,” first-year Circleville coach Evan Callihan said. “Our guys were upset after the match, but as a coach I look at it as a positive.
“Our guys are expecting to win. It’s cliche but it’s a process. I truly believe in sports you have to learn how to win and expecting to win is a start. We just have to keep growing and put together a match for the full 80 minutes.”
Circleville came out of the gate strong and scored just four minutes into the match when Luke Stout played a through ball to Payden Dillon, who slotted his shot past the Hamilton Township keeper.
“We got out to a great start scoring early,” Callihan said. “Our seniors Luke Stout and Payden Dillon connected to give us an early lead. I feel like our guys came out with a lot of energy and played with the intensity we need to be competitive and to be successful.”
The Tigers doubled their advantage with five minutes off the clock in the second half when Dillon returned the favor by playing a through ball through to Stout, who deposited the chance into the back of the net.
Hamilton Township battled back wih goals at the 57-and 69-minute marks to level the score at 2-2.
“In our league every night is going to be a battle. One of our goals this year is to be competitive in our league,” Callihan said. “We talked earlier this week about how this would be a gauge for where we are as a team. Hamilton Township has a great soccer program and coaching staff. Coach Sutherland has been there for many years and his teams are always going to be tough and play hard.”
While Callihan felt the Tigers could have probably leaned on their defense a little more to try and leave Obetz with a win, he credited the Rangers for making a comeback to earn the draw and also discussed the constant attitude he wants his team to play with.
“I give Hamilton Township a lot of credit for making plays in the second half to tie the match,” he said. “It’s a tough result for us being up 2-0 and ending with a tie, but I’m proud of the effort and grit our guys played with.
“We probably could’ve played more defensive in the second half, but we are trying to get our team to play to win and keep attacking. That’s the mentality that we are trying to have.”
Callihan complimented the play of a trio of Tigers for being important in this tough league clash.
“Our senior Luke Stout made some big plays for us tonight,” the CHS boss praised. “He’s someone that I’m tough on every day and he always accepts the coaching and wants to get better. He’s a great leader for us and he understands what we are trying to do as a program. I feel fortunate to coach him and he’s someone that is always going to just put his head down and give you his best effort. He put us in a position to be successful tonight.
“Our central defender Zack Bell also played one of his best games of the season. Zack is a tough athletic kid, and he was flying all over the place tonight to try to help us win. Slater Search beside him also was playing with some soreness and he hasn’t been 100 percent but he played the entire match.”
The Tigers (1-0-2) travel to Westfall on Saturday for a non-league battle with the Mustangs.