THE TOURNAMENT TRAIL: BOYS SECTIONAL SOCCER
Freshman goalie keeps Falcons close, but Eagles prove too tough
AVON — Firelands got a big job from their freshman goalkeeper Monday night, but it wasn’t enough to turn the tables on Avon.
Despite 14 saves by Garrett Kelling — some of them acrobatic and from point-blank range — Avon pinned a 4-0 defeat on the Falcons in a Division II sectional tournament semifinal. The Eagles (8-6-2) also won the West Shore Conference matchup between the two, 5-1.
The victory earned Avon a sectional final date with top-seeded Bay at 7 p.m. Thursday on the Rockets’ turf. The Falcons’ season ends at 1-16.
|Firelands’ Phillip Patterson (8) works to shield the ball from Avon’s Ryan Galik during Monday’s game.|
“I didn’t know he was a freshman,” the Eagles’ Ryan Galik said of Kelling’s play. Galik scored a goal and assisted on another. “He did a pretty good job. He made some really good saves. We had a lot of shots, too, and he did a good job of keeping it out.”
Speaking of freshmen, Dan Brown provided all the scoring Avon needed. Brown drilled two goals, the Eagles’ first in the 25th minute and their fourth in the 72nd minute. His first came after teammate Quinn Rambo had a touch, which sent the ball off a Firelands defender. The second was a header after a corner kick by Nathan Furnas.
Galik’s goal, on what was literally a face-saving play, gave Avon a 2-0 lead in the 29th minute. And senior Dan Skinner, with his first goal of the season, made it 3-0 in the 70th.
About that face-saver, a goal by Galik, who controlled the ball after a pass ricocheted off Furnas’s face.
“Once it hit my teammate in the face, I was like, ‘I just have to score this for him,’” Galik said. “It hit him and was coming at me and I was like, ‘I have to finish this.’ It just came at me perfectly.”
Falcons freshman Kelling, who must have felt as though he were in a shooting gallery, made seven saves each half. His two most notable came within two minutes of each other late in the match.
Kelling, who started the season as a junior varsity defender, made a great diving save in the 63rd minute, when Avon’s Rambo moved through the Falcons defense and fired a shot from point-blank range. Then shortly thereafter, he made another spectacular diving save after the Eagles’ Nolan Saini made a neat crossing pass to Dan Perry, and Perry fired a rocket from close range.
“I give it all up in practice and listen to my coach,” Kelling said of his development as a keeper. He has been in goal regularly since the second game. “I haven’t been a goalie since I was like 10.”
He said the Falcons were a different team than the one that was waxed by Avon in their first meeting.
“We gave it our all,” Kelling said. “We actually played with heart. Last time, we just kind of played. We weren’t really here.”
Kennie Searight, Firelands’ first-year coach, also noticed a difference.
“Our attitude was there and it was good,” said Searight, former Wellington and Defiance College star. “Once we get a little more experience, a little more seasoned things will start to bounce our way. Avon’s a good team and a class squad and I can’t say enough good things about them tonight.
Meantime, Ryan Olsen, the Eagles’ keeper, nearly had the night off. Firelands put him to work just three times. Olsen handled all three chances flawlessly, although the Falcons’ Chaz Landes made him dive to save his hard shot in the 56th minute.
Firelands also had some first-half opportunities. Working together, Phillip Patterson and Landes got the ball to John Cozma deep in the Eagles’ box, but the defense responded to break up the play in the fifth minute. And Landes, with a nice pass from Patterson, fired a left-footer at the Eagles’ goal that forced Olsen to make a save two minutes later.
“This could have been our seniors’ last game and I made them aware of that,” said Avon coach Chris Dore. “I thought they came out and played well.”
Avon 4, Firelands 0
Goals: (A) Dan Brown 2, Ryan Galik, Dan Skinner.
Assists: (A) Galik, Nathan Furnas.
Shots: Firelands 9, Avon 27.
Shots on frame: Firelands 3, Avon 16.
Saves: (F) Garrett Kelling 14, (A) Ryan Olsen 3.
Corner kicks: Firelands 1, Avon 9.
Goal kicks: Firelands 11, Avon 5.
Offside: Firelands 0, Avon 1.
Hand balls: Firelands 0, Avon 0.
Other infractions: Firelands 9, Avon 12.
Cards: (A) Dan Kelly yellow, 19th minute; Josh Turner yellow, 55th minute.
Halftime: Avon, 2-0.