By Garth Shanklin
A group of Batavia Bulldogs’ soccer players had quite the experience on Saturday, June 24. The Bulldogs competed in a halftime shootout against Withrow High School at Nippert Stadium during halftime of FC Cincinnati’s 2-0 victory over Saint Louis FC.
Batavia head coach Kevin Scheel said he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to put the Bulldogs on the field.
“It was an amazing experience,” Scheel said. “It came out of the blue, they started doing this last year. I received an email reaching out, asking if we’d like to participate and it was an easy yes. We ended up there last Saturday, it was a gorgeous night for soccer. They were excited to see them play, would’ve been enough just to go to the game but six of us got to go on the field. It was a blast, they enjoyed it immensely.”
Six players took part in the shootout. Braxton Burke began by tying the contest at one. Corbin Richardson and Noah Brasfield each scored to make it 3-1, with saves by Jax Gibson preserving the victory. Anthony Oliverio and Alex Hornschmeier also joined their teammates on the field. While the win was a nice bonus, Scheel said the main point of the contest was to simply have fun.
“It was nothing short of enjoyment and fun,” Scheel said. “There wasn’t really any drive or ambition, I told the kids have some good times, you’ll have some people who are watching, live in the moment and enjoy it. It was a fun night at the game, which is what FC Cincy’s all about.”
The FC Cincinnati game was the second opportunity this offseason Batavia has had to grow as a team. Earlier this summer, a group of 40 Bulldogs, including some soccer players from both the boys’ and girls’ squads, took a trip to Spain. Scheel said the trip was a nice way to end the school year, with the students getting a chance to celebrate a major victory with Spanish soccer fans.
“It was a nice wrap-up, we have a lot going on. I took 32 students over to Spain with eight adults. We went to Madrid, Barcelona, Savilla, Gibraltar. About 1/3 of the students were soccer players. When we were in Madrid, not only did we visit Real Madrid’s stadium, we got to watch the Champion’s League final when they won. We took about 17 kids down, found a patio bar and found some local Madrid fans.”
Batavia would normally be preparing for the Bulldogs’ summer tournament, However, due to a lack of interest, the tournament will not be played this season. Batavia will instead participate in the McNicholas High School Preseason Invitational from July 21-23. The school is also selling tickets to select Columbus Crew games throughout the season. Batavia’s boys’ and girls’ teams will participate in a game at Mapfre Stadium in Columbus prior to the Crew’s match against Dallas on August 26.