ONEIDA | The Indians are expected to breeze through the District 3-A tournament, and it certainly started that way Tuesday (May 9), as Oneida cruised to a 6-0 win over fourth-seeded Rockwood.
The Indians, the top seed entering the tournament, did all of their scoring in the first half before calling off the dogs in the second 40 minutes.
“Our guys played very well in the first half,” Oneida coach Derek Keeton said. “We moved the ball extremely well and was able to get pretty much whatever we wanted offensively.”
Keeton said he tasked his defense going into Tuesday's semifinal game.
“We really challenged our defense to make connecting passes off their foot and head, and I thought they did that extremely well,” he said. “The passing of Nick Gilbert, Grady Keeton, Luke Barna, Mason Keeton and Levi James was fantastic offensively. Defensively, our back line was very solid with Wyatt Yancey, Reice Kennedy, Wes Hurst, Gavin Keeton, Ben Gilbert, Isaac Martin and Sam Bell all contributing very good minutes.”
Mason Keeton finished with a hat trick, scoring three goals. James had two goals. Nick Gilbert rounded out the scoring.
Keeton played his younger players exclusively in the second half.
“I chose to make the second half a JV type game to give those boys that are at practice everyday and have worked extremely hard to improve a chance to show the home crowd their talents,” he said. “Coach (Phil) Newport felt the second half was way more entertaining than the first half. It was entertaining to watch but with 18 shots on goal in the second half and no goals, we definitely have some things to work on.”
Oneida will host Cumberland Gap Thursday for the district championship. The Indians mercy-ruled the Panthers in just one half of play in the regular season meeting.
Kickoff of Thursday's game is slated for 6:30pm. The winner will host a region semifinal game next week.
“From this point, as long as we keep winning, we can play at home every game next week,” Keeton said.