Grant Ledbetter leads Circle Thunderbirds past El Dorado in physical soccer match

Charles Chaney
Butler County Times Gazette
Circle's Beau Reida runs after a shot on goal in the first half against El Dorado at Circle High School on Thursday, Sept. 30. Circle won 1-0.

TOWANDA—It's been a lot of frustration and tough nights but for Circle Soccer they were able to get the fruits of their labor on Thursday night as they beat El Dorado 1-0 for their first win of the season. 

For the Thunderbirds, it's their second straight win over the Wildcats, dating back to last year's 3-1 win in the Class 4A-1A state playoffs. 

"I'm letting them soak this one in," first-year Circle head coach Junior Juan Galvan said.

Circle had been pushing toward this moment all season under coach Galvan, it started on practice one and some of the hard work showed on Thursday night. 

"Coach Galvin really focuses on the technical side of things and it's helped us a lot," junior goalkeeper Grant Ledbetter said. 

Technical skill refers to the dribbling and passing abilities and speeds. Being able to pass with control and velocity can make the difference between good players and average players. 

"These guys have worked just so hard since day one," Galvan said. "I'm really proud of them."

Circle found some success in the through ball over the top, finding the feet of Beau Reida on numerous occasions. The most important one came in the 12th minute when Reida tried to chase down a long ball but El Dorado's keeper struggled on the clearout as it deflected it off Reida. That set up the open net goal for Reida on the rebound to give Circle the 1-0 lead.

"That goal gave us the confidence to win this game," Ledbetter said. "We already were hyped for this one but that helped us even more."

Ledbetter did his part on the other end with the 1-0 lead. He three-year starter has seen the ups and downs of the program. From the 20-0 loss to Wichita Trinity in the first match of last season, to this moment. Circle is no longer worrying about if they can just get to the second half. They're focusing on winning games. 

"It's been about working on our confidence," Ledbetter said. "We're no longer going into matches knowing we're going to lose and Junior [Galvan] has done a good job of making sure we're playing the full 80 minutes."

Coach Galvin echoed the sentiments.

"We're focusing on winning the individual things," Galvan said. "When you just focus on winning, you're probably not going to win. You have to focus on the little things that help you get that win. Whether it be technical skill or confidence."

Ledbetter's second half was one that can elevate your confidence to new heights. His save in the 58th minute saved the match. El Dorado had a shot get behind Ledbetter but he sprinted, diving to keep the ball from crossing the goal line, having the wherewithal to keep the ball extended beyond the line. 

He made save after save in the second half as El Dorado was pressing for the equalizer. Including one on a 1-on-1 situation in the 67th minute but Ledbetter used his size to make the save.

"I trust Grant and he knows that," Galvan said. "We're all just learning and we have that learning curve. We believe in him."

For El Dorado, it's their 25th consecutive loss. 

Now, Circle will try to build upon this win with only a han

Circle takes their win and their momentum as they travel to eight-ranked Augusta on Tuesday, Oct. 5 with only three matches remaining in the regular season.

"We're transparent in having those small goals and trying to reach them," Galvan said. "We just need to stay confident and positive."

Charles Chaney has been the Sports Editor for the Butler County Times-Gazette since Aug. 2019. You can reach him at cchaney@butlercountytimesgazette.com or on Twitter at @ChuckChaneyBCTG.