Tigers hold off Mustangs for 3-2 win

A pair of quick strikes late in the first half by Circleville made the difference on Saturday in a hard-fought 3-2 non-league win over the host Westfall Mustangs.

“We knew this match was going to be tough and physical with Westfall. That’s a team with seven seniors and that group has had success over the past few years,” Circleville coach Evan Callihan said. “Over the years in all sports, Westfall has tough kids who love to compete no matter the sport, so we knew we were going to have to go in there and play with a lot of fight.

“We felt prepared going into the match. Our assistant Coach Gaines knows that team really well from coaching over there the past several years and we leaned on him to really help us get prepared. This was a tough game for him to coach in because I know how much he cares about those guys over there.”

Circleville’s Greyson Buckley battles for possession with Westfall’s Blayze Scott on Saturday in a non-league match. Photos courtesy of garysimages.com

The Tigers reached the scoreboard first at the three-minute mark of the first half when Luke Stout scored on a free kick from outside the ball.

Westfall tied the match at the 24-minute mark when a hand ball was called in the box off a corner kick. The Mustangs were awarded a penalty kick that Sebastian Lavi deposited into the back of the net.

The Tigers responded 10 minutes later when Stout took a deep throw in from Ashton Groff and scored his second goal of the first half.

Circleville went ahead 3-1 just one minute later when Stout fed Kaden Paxton for the scoring tally.

“Luke Stout was big for us today scoring two goals and adding an assist. He played like a senior leader out there today and we will need that moving forward,” Callihan praised.

Circleville’s Kaden Paxton and Westfall’s Henry Barnes vie for control of the ball on Saturday during a non-league encounter. Photo courtesy of garysimages.com

That’s where the score stayed going into halftime and the first 33 minutes of the second half until Westfall’s Henry Barnes scored off a deep free kick from Dawson Spaniol to make it a one-goal match.

While Callihan knows the Tigers have work remaining, he was pleased to see the way they responded to the adversity of a late score by the Mustangs.

“I’m proud of how our guys played and we took a step today coming out of there with a win,” Callihan said. “We have been in this situation several matches this season when a team has scored late and it was big for us to keep the lead. We still have work to do, but I’m happy for our players.”

Will Flory recorded six saves for the Tigers and Brady Mullins tallied eight for the Mustangs.

Westfall’s Sebastian Lavi looks to make a pass on Saturday against Circleville. Photos courtesy of garysimages.com

Callihan complimented a trio of his players for their contributions in a winning effort.

“Freshman Blain Fowler and Senior Josiah Gaines gave us big minutes at the wing position. Blain is an athletic player for us and he has made an immediate impact as a freshman,” he said. “His future is bright and a lot of that goes to how coachable he is and the winning attitude he carries with him. I felt this was Josiah’s best game of the season thus far. He created many scoring opportunities for us and played his role well on the wing offensively and defensively.

“Sophomore Ashton Groff also made some big plays for us today. He had a huge assist that helped us regain the lead. Ashton is a fierce competitor and someone that puts a lot of pressure on himself to be great. He does so much for us as a team and he helps put us in positions to be successful.”

The Tigers (2-0-2) host Piketon on Wednesday for a non-league match, while the Mustangs (1-1-1) open Scioto Valley Conference play on the same evening at Zane Trace.

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