The Avon Lake Shoremen boys soccer team managed a late come back to defeat a scrappy North Ridgeville team 3-2, with two goals in the final 5 minutes. On a slightly breezy and cool evening on the lake, the resolve of the Shoremen was tested from the start by a game Ranger squad.
In the third minute of the contest a North Ridgeville forward was played in on goal by a long pass and powered his shot past freshman goalie Zach Glesius to give the Rangers an early 1-0 lead. The Shoremen coaching staff was upset because it appeared that the forward started from an obvious offsides position, but the goal stood.
Avon Lake took some time to find the flow of the game after going down, but still managed a few half-chances in the first half. In the 7th minute a nice progression ended in a diagonal ball from junior Drew DelGiudice that made its way to senior Colin Radca at the back post, but his first time effort is wide.
Leading goal scorer, senior Edison Lemanowicz, was played through in the 19th minute but his final touch as he headed to the goal was just far enough away for the Ranger goalie to slide in and control.
North Ridgeville almost capitalized on a Shoremen miscue in the 27th minute after a poor pass out of the back was picked up by a Ranger player who had a brief look on goal and hit a shot that was blocked out at the last second by senior Andrew Jacobson, earning a corner.
In the 28th minute an Avon Lake corner kick was recycled back out wide for senior Cam Salco to put into the box again, and DelGiudice hit a volley that looped over the cross bar. A few minutes later DelGiudice got his head on another Shoremen corner kick but could not turn it goal-ward.
The best chance of the first half for Avon Lake came in the final minute, as Jacobson drove the ball forward, beating his man down the end line before cutting it back and finding junior Josh Lawniczak at the top of the 18, but his hit sailed just a bit over the bar leaving the halftime score line at 1-0.
The second half began on a better note as the Shoremen generated two chances early on, first from a dangerous Chippi cross, then on a cross the other way from Salco. But neither ball could be latched on to.
In the 45th minute Lemanowicz got his head on to a ball off a corner kick that had bounced around in the six yard box but the Ranger keeper saved it comfortably.
Three minutes later senior Joey Caputo hit a floating ball up the right side of the field that Lemanowicz ran on to, then used some fancy footwork to beat two defenders as he moved across the box from right to left, but his left footed shot was deflected by a third defender to earn another Shoreman corner kick.
Avon Lake finally broke through in the 52nd minute after Jacobson made a surging run up the right, beating two Rangers along the way, before getting clattered in to in the box to earn a PK. Jacobson calmly stepped up and got the goalie diving early and the wrong way as he deposited his shot into the right side of the net to even the score at 1-1.
North Ridgeville would capitalize on a penalty kick of their own in the 56th minute after Glesius came out and slid for a ball and arrived a split second late. The Rangers finished their spot kick easily to retake the lead 2-1.
Avon Lake had an awesome chance to tie it back up in the 65th minister after Lemanowicz got a pass then played a quick ball for Chippi to run on to in the box, but his hard shot was kept out by a great reaction save from the keeper diving to his left.
Things got a bit heated in the 73rd minute after Chippi was played in on goal and got the goalie to commit before passing a ball across for Salco to slide and finish, which would have tied the match. But an offside flag was raised which nullified the goal, much to the consternation of the Avon Lake bench, who had already begun celebrating what looked to be a good goal.
During the aforementioned consternation an Avon Lake assistant coach registering his dissent to the officials was given a second yellow card, disqualifying him from the rest of the match.
What he missed was a resilient and determined Shoremen soccer squad taking the game back into their own hands. First, in the 75th minute Chippi played Jacobson in on goal and he beat the goalie to the ball and poked it home to knot the score at 2-2. The remaining coaching staff had their hearts in their throats briefly as the referees conferenced before confirming the goal, as the ball had bounced off the tire that sits next to the side netting and kicked back out of the goal.
A couple of minutes later DelGiudice found time to play a nice ball that Salco rushed on to and hit that squeezed past the charging North Ridgeville keeper, who partially blocked it. But the ball’s momentum carried it toward the net, with a follow up tap from Salco to ensure it was in. In a flash the Shoremen has battled back to take the 3-2 lead.
North Ridgeville earned a last chance with under a minute left after being fouled in a dangerous spot in the Avon Lake half of the field. Their keeper ran up to take the kick and chipped a ball to the right side of the box, but Avon Lake was able to head it away and then see the game out.
It was a high intensity game, par for the course for the SWC conference. With the come from behind victory Avon Lake improves to 7-2-0, 4-1-0 SWC, while North Ridgeville falls to 3-2-2, 2-2-1 SWC.
“That win might have taken years off my life,” said head coach Pete Klepek. “I’m so proud of our guys for fighting against adversity all the way to the end. Hats off to North Ridgeville, they made us earn this one.”
Avon Lake had a large advantage in shots and corner kicks, with 22 shots, including 11 on goal, and 10 corner kicks. North Ridgeville has 9 shots but only 2 on goal, and just 3 corner kicks.
The JV Shoremen also won a hard fought victory in the first game, after sophomore Ethan Catlin scored with under a minute to play for the 1-0 win. JV is now 7-1-1 on the year.
Both teams travel to Willoughby South on Saturday for games at 5 and 7pm.
This evening was also Youth Challenge Night for Avon Lake, and the Youth Challenge Paralympic soccer team was in attendance to support the Shoremen and play a short scrimmage at halftime. In addition the team was recognized on the field before the game and fans helped raise money for their programs through a 50/50 raffle.
Thank you to everyone who cheered on their participants during their scrimmage and supported them through the raffle! Anyone interested in learning more about Youth Challenge can go to www.youthchallengesports.com.