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Last year, Pendleton County stood in the way of the Grant County boys’ soccer team as they faced off in the district and regional tournament championships.
This season, the Braves lost their regular season matchup against Pendleton County on Sept. 3 despite a late-game offensive attack.
The Braves earned redemption when they took down the Wildcats 2-0 in the district tournament Oct. 13. With the win, the Braves earned their second consecutive trip to the region tournament.
“That was the best moment of my senior year because we had a great night and we beat them,” senior Christian Cain said.
“It was sweet for us to knock them out of districts on their home field,” senior Neal Koebcke said. “It’s been an ongoing rivalry for the past several years and it felt good to beat them.”
The Braves played with a lot of intensity, something that coach Dempsey Schlueter has preached throughout the season.
“This was a great win for our team. We have been looking forward to a rematch against Pendleton all season and we showed up and played great against them,” Schlueter said. “Going into the game, we knew it was win or go home. We played like our season depended on it. The intensity our team played with was exactly what I’ve been asking them to do for a while. When this team does that, they can compete with anyone.”
The Braves took control of the game on goals by Cain and senior Anthony Clouse.
The Braves advanced to play St. Patrick in the district championship game, but ended up with a 1-0 loss on Oct. 15.
Grant County had several chances to score in the first half, but St. Patrick’s goalie came up with timely stops that prevented the Braves from taking advantage of their scoring chances.
The Saints scored their goal in the final minute of the first half and were able to hold on in a physical second half to win the district championship.
“We have been putting ourselves in position to score throughout the year,” Schlueter said. “Even though we have scored several goals this year, we have had the opportunities to score more. It was a physical game, but I was proud of the team for keeping a cool head throughout and never stopping until the end.”
Koebcke and Cain were named to the district all-tournament team for the Braves.
The Braves played Montgomery County in the first round of the region tournament on Oct. 19, but came away with a 3-0 loss to end their season. The Braves were without junior defender Logan Barnett, who was hurt during the district championship against St. Patrick.
“We came out, played hard and competed,” Schlueter said. “With Logan not being able to play much, we had to make some adjustments and play some people where they normally don’t. I thought everyone did a good job of adjusting and doing what I asked them to do.”