CLAYTON — Utah Strobel and Justin Menker each scored Saturday night to help lead Northmont to a 2-1 victory over Lebanon in the opening round of the boys Division I sectional soccer tournament.
The two teams battled to a 1-1 tie during regular season play. Saturday night the Thunderbolts put constant pressure on the Lebanon goal with a few shots glancing off the post and played tenacious defense to keep the Warriors at bay.
Northmont scored early in the first half when Strobel scored at 30:19 to put the Thunderbolts on top 1-0. Lebanon tied the score with a goal by senior forward Ryan Lommatzsch at the 19:12 mark. The first half ended in a 1-1 deadlock.
When play resumed Northmont stepped up its attack and dominated play the entire second half.
The Thunderbolts took a 2-1 lead when Menker scored with 32:50 remaining. As Menker made a run at the goal Lebanon’s goalie made a fatal mistake by coming out of the box in an attempt to thwart Menker’s attack. Menker got the ball past the goalie, side stepped him and fired a shot into the back of the net at pointblank range to score what would prove to be the winning goal.
Northmont goalkeeper Nick Newman rejected Lebanon scoring attempts down the stretch with plenty of support from a swarming defense that made it difficult for the Warriors to get the ball into shooting range.
“We played a really strong game, but we have been in a bad habit of falling into the other team’s style and we get ourselves in trouble,” said Northmont coach Bob Brown. “We are not a phenomenal team in the air and Lebanon is very good in the air, so it kind of equalized the game. Once we got the ball down and started moving it around we did well. Lebanon is a big threat on set pieces but I don’t think they are as good as we are on the floor. They are a very capable team and it was a good game. Their keeper made some ridiculous saves. I think we hit the pipe three or four times during the game, but we will take it.”
With the win Northmont improves to 11-4-2 while Lebanon ends its season at 6-9-2. The Thunderbolts advance to play Centerville (10-7-1) on Tuesday at West Carrollton at 7 p.m. The Elks will be gunning to avenge a 5-0 regular season loss to Northmont.