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May 26, 2020

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Bluffton boys upset top-ranked OH in regional finals;  Pirates advance to state final 4 with 4-2 shootout win 

Story by Cort Reynolds
Photos  below by Marvin Foster

DEFIANCE - The Bluffton boys soccer team outlasted number one-ranked Ottawa Hills 4-2 in penalty kicks after a double overtime epic in Div. III regional final action at Defiance Saturday evening.

The Pirate upset victory, their sixth match win in a row, improved their season record to 17-2-2. State poll regular season champion Ottawa Hills ended their campaign 16-3-2 after the defeat.

CLICK HERE for Marvin Foster's game photos.

Bluffton advances to the state semifinals vs. third-ranked Canfield South Range (19-2) Wednesday, Nov. 6 at  7 p.m. at Chippewa High School in eastern Ohio.

Bluffton school's will be on a two-hour delay on Thursday, Nov. 7, due to the late-night travel required.

South Range blanked Kidron Central Christian 3-0 Saturday night at Louisville in their regional final match.

Bluffton's third straight OT win
The win over Ottawa Hills was Bluffton's third straight overtime tournament victory. The Pirates bested Riverdale 1-0 at the district finals in overtime, then eliminated Fairview 2-1 in double OT in the regional semis.

After 80 minutes of scoreless regulation play and 30 more over two goal-less overtimes, the contest was decided in a penalty kick shootout.

Pirate junior keeper Nic Essinger made several sparkling saves to keep the Green Bears off the scoreboard. In the second half, OH's Ignacio Garcia-Mata directed a header toward the goal off a long, curling left-footed corner kick.

But Essinger leaped and deflected his header off the crossbar. The ensuing rebound shot was also stopped by a Pirate defender's leg, and the ball was eventually cleared to keep the match tied 0-0.

In the second overtime, Essinger made a lunging save to his left to deny a shot from point-blank range.

He quickly got up and turned back another short shot off the rebound with a fine, leaping reflex right-handed save to send it to penalty kicks.

In the shootout with the score tied 2-2, Essinger made a diving save to his right to deflect the shot away and allow Bluffton a chance to take the lead. 

Bluffton then triumphed in penalty kicks 4-2 when junior midfielder Tayton Kleman placed a shot perfectly into the lower right corner of the net just out of the diving keeper's reach to win it.

Penalty kicks by Derstine, Schriner, Oglesbee, Kleman
Bluffton's Simon Derstine, Jonathan Schriner and Collin Oglesbee each were successful on penalty kicks before the Kleman clincher.

OH seniors Scott Davis and Drew Hoffman converted the two successful Green Bear penalty kicks.

The Green Bears put 12 of their 17 shots on goal, with Essinger making a dozen clutch saves.

Bluffton put six of its 10 shots on target, necessitating six saves by the OH keeper.

OH fell to 7-2-2 in neutral site games with the loss, while Bluffton improved to 4-1 at neutral sites with the win. The previous Green Bear losses came to Toledo St. John's Jesuit 4-2 on September 21, and at Perrysburg 2-1 on October 5.

OH and Bluffton's only common opponent was Kalida this season. The Green Bears beat Kalida 3-0 in the regional semis, while the Pirates tied the Wildcats 1-1 on October 8.

The South Range Raiders also enter the state semifinals on a six-match win streak. Their only losses this season were to Warren Howland on September 4 (2-1), and at Richfield Revere Oct. 8 (1-0).

The final 4 in Division III
• No. 3 Canfield South Range (19-2-0) vs. Bluffton (17-2-2)
at Chippewa High School, Wednesday, 7 p.m.

• No. 5 Columbus Wellington School (16-2-3) vs. No. 7 Botkins (19-0-2)
at Springfield High School, Wednesday, 7 p.m.

• Division III State Championship: Sunday, MAPFRE Stadium,
Home of the Columbus Crew, Time TBA

Division I
No. 1 Medina (20-0-1) vs. No. 2 Cleveland St. Ignatius (19-0-2) at Brunswick High School, Wed., 7 p.m.

No. 4 Powell Olentangy Liberty (18-2-1) vs. Liberty Township Lakota East (16-3-3) at Xenia Football Field, Wed., 7 p.m.

Division I State Championship: Sun., at MAPFRE Stadium, Time TBA

Division II
No. 9 Warren Howland (20-0-1) vs. No. 5 Lexington (21-1-0) at Barberton High School, Wed., 7 p.m.

No. 14 Gahanna Columbus Academy (13-3-5) vs No. 2 Tipp City Tippecanoe (21-0-1) at London High School, Wed., 7 p.m.

Division II State Championship: Sun., at MAPFRE Stadium, Time TBA

CLICK HERE for brackets.

CLICK HERE for state tournament coverage details.

Home Team Listed First. Rankings are from the Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association State Poll released on Oct. 15.