“We understand that long ball into the goal mouth being dangerous,” Nickles said. “It’s very hard to defend. Unfortunately, we got into a bit of a hole.”
The Knights went toe-to-toe with the Stingers (16-1-1) for the first 20 minutes of the match until a long throw-in found the foot of Scott Williams, who gave Seven Hills the lead for good.
Sophomore Damien Beck scored the lone goal for the Knights, who finished the season 16-3. It was their district final appearance since 2011. Greenon was also the first Clark County boys team to advance to the district final since 2016.
Wellby Anning had two goals for D-III second-ranked Seven Hills, while Scott Williams, Josh Nelson and William Hawgood each added a goal in the victory. Seven Hills will play Madeira in a D-III regional semifinal match at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31 at Centerville’s Alumni Stadium. Madeira beat Yellow Springs 6-4 in a D-III district final match.
The Stingers played a strong possession game, while the Knights relied on its counterattack throughout the first half. Greenon had several chances, but were unable to challenge the keeper.
“We got lost there for a few minutes trying to chase too many balls down there on one sideline, rather than using our strengths and switching the ball from one side to the other and looking for the weak side ball,” Nickles said. “We reminded them at halftime and did a little bit better job, but obviously didn’t execute the way we needed to to win the game, which was disappointing.”
Seven Hills added another goal with about six minutes remaining to increase their lead to 2-0 at the half.
Greenon will use the loss as a measuring stick moving forward, Nickles said.
“It shows where we are as a program right now and what we need to be working towards,” he said. “Seven Hills is a fantastic program. It shows us what we have to work for.”
Trent Green scored the lone goal as the Knights beat Waynesville 1-0 in a district semifinal match earlier this week to advance to the district finals as one of 32 remaining teams in Ohio.
Nickles knew the Knights would be strong, but he didn’t expect the team to develop so rapidly, Nickles said. Greenon will graduate five seniors, but expects to return nine starters from this year’s Ohio Heritage Conference and district runner-up squad.
Nickles could only describe this year’s team as “fantastic.”
“It’s not just winning games,” Nickles said. “It’s growing together, setting goals, working towards them every day in practice. It’s a long grind. They’ve been working together since Day 1 of the season. … We’re very, very hopeful about what’s to come over the next few years.”