Prep soccer: Effah’s two goals help Hamilton oust Middies in sectional

Hamilton’s Kelvin Effah (6) celebrates a goal with teammate Cole Hamilton during their 4-2 Division I sectional win over visiting Middletown on Monday night at Virgil Schwarm Stadium in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
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Hamilton’s Kelvin Effah (6) celebrates a goal with teammate Cole Hamilton during their 4-2 Division I sectional win over visiting Middletown on Monday night at Virgil Schwarm Stadium in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

HAMILTON — Kelvin Effah was the key figure for Hamilton High School’s boys soccer team Monday night as the Division I postseason began.

The junior forward scored two goals in Big Blue’s 4-2 Cincinnati sectional victory over visiting Middletown at Virgil Schwarm Stadium. The teams played to a 2-2 Greater Miami Conference tie Sept. 4.

HHS, the No. 20 seed, improved to 4-9-4 and will travel to second-seeded St. Xavier (10-3-3) on Thursday at 7 p.m. The Middies, seeded 25th, finished 2-13-1.

“It was an amazing game tonight,” Effah said. “It was tough, but we played really good. We are going to push forward into the tournament and put up a good effort. I am proud of my team, and I think that we need to be better on Thursday.”

Hamilton goalkeeper Brian Cruz and Middletown’s Kelvin Shealey battle for the ball Monday night at Virgil Schwarm Stadium in Hamilton. Host Big Blue won 4-2 in the Division I sectional opener. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
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Hamilton goalkeeper Brian Cruz and Middletown’s Kelvin Shealey battle for the ball Monday night at Virgil Schwarm Stadium in Hamilton. Host Big Blue won 4-2 in the Division I sectional opener. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

In a back-and-forth first half which saw five of the six goals scored, it did not take Big Blue long to grab a 1-0 lead when Effah netted his first goal in the third minute on a nice give-and-go run from the midfield position.

Middletown played with a lot of resilience in the first half and answered with back-to-back goals from junior Nick Thornton. He scored in the 10th and 13th minutes.

Hamilton answered the call when freshman Randy Medina tied the contest on a beautiful strike with his left foot, and the hosts tacked on another goal in the 28th minute when sophomore Aaron Truett was found by junior Alex Deaton on a nice run inside the box.

“I really liked our form tonight,” Big Blue coach Donny Herrington said. “On a cold night we came back, and even if it wasn’t the most beautiful win we’ve had, sometimes you have to win the ugly ones too. This is just my second year, heading into my third, and we’re really starting to implement our mind-set and the culture we’re trying to bring.”

Hamilton’s Chris Thomas and Middletown’s Angel Rivera (7) battle for the ball during Monday night’s Division I sectional contest at Virgil Schwarm Stadium in Hamilton. Host Big Blue won 4-2. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
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Hamilton’s Chris Thomas and Middletown’s Angel Rivera (7) battle for the ball during Monday night’s Division I sectional contest at Virgil Schwarm Stadium in Hamilton. Host Big Blue won 4-2. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

The second half, unlike the first, saw a lot more ball control and possession being implemented on behalf of Hamilton.

The Middies had a big opportunity to tie the match in the 49th minute when they had a 2-on-1 breakaway that ended with a shot that missed high over the net.

With that break, HHS called on Effah in the 74th minute when he received a pass from junior Diego Martinez inside the box that he capitalized on for the final goal of the night.

“It’s always fun when we play Hamilton. You know it’s going to be a battle,” Middletown coach Jake Ottlinger said. “Tonight they got the better of us, but we’re a young team with a lot of sophomores and juniors that will be back. We battled hard, and tonight was probably one of our top three performances all season.”

Big Blue outshot the Middies 24-11, with 13 of those shots on goal. It was a physical contest with 18 total fouls and two yellow cards.

Hamilton goalkeeper Brian Cruz saves a shot attempt by Middletown’s Nick Thornton during a 4-2 Division I sectional victory by HHS on Monday night at Virgil Schwarm Stadium in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
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Hamilton goalkeeper Brian Cruz saves a shot attempt by Middletown’s Nick Thornton during a 4-2 Division I sectional victory by HHS on Monday night at Virgil Schwarm Stadium in Hamilton. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF