By Garth Shanklin
Eight soccer teams representing four different Clermont County schools made trips to Mason earlier this month for the Mason Pre-Season Soccer Classic, held at Heritage Oak Park.
Two boys’ soccer teams, the Amelia Barons and Bethel-Tate Tigers, participated in the boys’ tournament July 15-17.
Both teams fared well in their respective divisions. The Barons won their first Red Division match against Twin Valley South 1-0, then followed that with a 2-1 victory over Anderson in their second match.
After the Barons battled to a 2-2 tie with Unioto, the team returned to action on the final day of the tournament and split the remaining two games. Amelia rolled to a 3-0 win over Triway before falling to the Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs in a close 1-0 decision.
Bethel-Tate also posted a solid showing in the tournament. The Tigers opened play with a 2-0 victory over Unioto. The Tigers then posted a 1-1 draw with Lynchburg before defeating Norwood 7-0 in the second match of day two.
On the third day of competition, the Tigers defeated Twin Valley South 1-0 in their fourth game before settling for a 1-1 draw against Anderson in the team’s final match of the tournament.
The Tigers finished with a 3-0-2 record, an improvement over last season’s 1-4 mark. Schellenberger said he did not expect the team to put up the record they did, but he also noted last year’s team played much better than their tournament record indicated.
“It was a good tournament for us,” Schellenberger said. “We were able to hold on to a couple of those games and pull them out. Obviously, when you win it makes the team morale a little bit higher and makes you feel a little bit more successful. It’s a great start for us.”
Schellenberger added the team had only practiced for a few days prior to the tournament, making their performance all the more impressive, especially in the rout of Norwood.
The Indians sent a relatively inexperienced squad out to face the Tigers in that match, but some of Bethel’s younger players got to see the pitch as well.
“It was a younger, freshman and sophomore squad,” Schellenberger said. “We played some younger kids too. Having a couple games under our belt, I think we just kind of clicked in that game.”
Teams throughout the tournament had to battle high temperatures, but Schellenberger said he makes sure his players listen to their bodies and prepare for the weather.
“It’s early in the season, so every team has that issue,” Schellenberger said. “You just have to constantly remind the kids to drink water, stay off the caffeine and be conscious of your body when it overheats. Everybody’s different, and I think we tell the kids that every day at practice. They pretty much take care of themselves.”
One week later, it was the girls’ turn to take to the field as the second week of the tournament began. Glen Este came up short in all five matches, losing four of the five with the fifth ending in a 1-1 tie against Cincinnati Country Day.
Milford sent two teams, with Milford’s first team finishing the tournament undefeated. The Lady Eagles knocked off Lynchburg 4-0, Harrison 3-1 and Mason 3-1. They battled Turpin and Talawanda to draws.
Milford’s second team earned a 2-2 draw with Mason in their first game before rallying for a 2-0 win over Turpin in game two. The Lady Eagles lost the third game to New Richmond 4-2 but finished the tournament on a high note with back-to-back wins, 7-1 over Talawanda and 2-0 over Harrison.
The Bethel-Tate Lady Tigers picked up one win in their five games. After losses to Cincinnati Christian, Talawanda and New Richmond to start the tournament, Bethel picked up a 5-0 win over Southern Buckeye Athletic and Academic Conference foe Western Brown before settling for a 1-1 draw with Clinton Massie to finish the tournament.
Like Milford, New Richmond sent two teams to the tournament and both had strong performances. In addition to the 4-2 win over Milford, the Lady Lions’ also defeated Talawanda 6-0, Turpin’s JV team 3-1 and Lynchburg 5-1. They battled Mason to a 1-1 draw.
The other New Richmond team also won four of their five matches. Including the team’s 6-1 win over Bethel, the Lions also earned victories over Talawanda 4-1, Cincinnati Christian 5-0 and Glen Este 9-0. The team’s lone non-victorious decision came in a scoreless draw with Lynchburg.
Both New Richmond squads put up solid offensive numbers, and head coach Rebecca Heine believes the reason behind that is the team’s focus on the passing game.
“The girls really know how to play with each other,” Heine said. “We really focus on our passing game and moving the ball and always creating space. They’ve really taken that to heart. I’m really big on conditioning, so we spent the past three weeks really bringing up our conditioning so we were ready for an event like this.”
The teams consisted of a mix of players who could end up on the junior varsity or varsity squad, according to Heine.
“They were mixed,” Heine said. “We haven’t had tryouts to where we were set on our team, but one was in an upper division and one was in a lower division.”
Regardless, Heine said she feels the team will have success on the pitch this upcoming season.
“We have an excellent team,” Heine said. “I think we’re going to do really well.”