When Marietta High and Warren played each other on the boys' soccer pitch during the regular season, it was basically a "what have you got" matchup," and as a result the two schools earned a split.
The Todd Morris-coached Tigers won the first meeting, 1-0, at Don Drumm Stadium, while the Andrew Johnson-led Warriors claimed the second contest, 5-2, on their field in Vincent.
Now, it's the proverbial rubber match, or Round 3, or the one that "really matters" when the two Washington County big school soccer teams square off in a sectional final at Warren High at 4 p.m. Saturday.
JORDAN HOLLAND The Marietta Times
Marietta’s Brent Huck, center with left knee brace, goes on the attack as two Athens players try to stop him in a sectional opener at the Devola Soccer Complex on Tuesday. MHS is at Warren in a sectional final Saturday.
The winner advances and extends its postseason, while the loser exits the playoff competition. It's as simple as that.
"We are looking forward to it," said Morris of the showdown. "Not only is this a win or go home game, but it is a win or go home game against our biggest rival. Should make for a lot of fun and a great atmosphere."
Marietta opened up sectional tournament play with a 2-1 come-from-behind triumph over Athens High at the Devola Soccer Complex this past Tuesday night. Brent Huck, playing on an injured knee, scored one second-half goal, and assisted on Jacob Holdren's match-winner.
With the victory, the East Central Ohio League champion Tigers improved their overall record to 11-3-3.
MHS is also expected to start Andrew Roberts, Holden Weihl, Owen LaBarre, Tanner Rake, Colin Jordan, Grant Gandor, Skylar Miracle, Brennan Uhrig and keeper Eric Pierce.
Huck leads the orange and black booters in scoring with nine goals and three assists. Holdren has six goals and six assists; Uhrig, five goals and one assist; and Miracle, three goals and four assists.
Pierce is averaging almost six saves per match, and has been credited with six clean sheets.
"Huge opportunity to prove to ourselves and soccer fans exactly what Marietta team we are and to erase the memory of the last game we played in Vincent," Morris said.
Warren is a Southeastern Ohio Athletic League co-champion (with Chillicothe), and it got to the pivotal game against Marietta by blanking Jackson, 3-0 - also on Tuesday.
The Warriors, owners of an 11-2-4 overall mark, got goals from Nate Robinson, Ty Kroner, and Sam Goodman. Cody Stanley was credited with a clean sheet.
Warren's other probable starters may be Greyson Cantley, Ben Koch, Wyatt Lynch, Aaron Mazurkiewicz, Nick Robinson, Evan Yabs, and Nick Koch.
"Warren is a tough place to play," Morris said. "They are talented and well-coached. We have to limit the mental mistakes we have been making and play a fundamentally sound game. If we do that and take advantage of the opportunities we create offensively, I like our chances to advance back to the district tournament."
NOTES: Marietta's win over Athens was the 350th in program history that began in 1985 (350-129-43 all-time record)...Warren won the South East District Title in 2011, with Marietta winning in 2010, 2009, and 2007, finishing as runner-up in 2008 to Athens, so the winner of the last three and four out of last 5 district crowns are playing Saturday afternoon...In the all-time series, Marietta has a 45-10-6 advantage, and is 6-1 in tournament play versus Warren...On Warren's home pitch, the Tigers are 18-6-5 all-time...In the last tournament match played between the two schools on Oct. 24, 2009, MHS won a 6-3 decision.