NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Sophomore Sami Ibrahim connected on a 40-yard boot in the middle of the field with 12:26 left in the second overtime to give top-seeded Lake Ridge Academy a 2-1 victory Monday over visiting Oberlin and put the Lions in the Division III district final Thursday at home.
Ibrahim’s goal, assisted by Nathan Kafity, was his seventh of the year and ended a tightly fought defensive battle that was barely finished before it would have been too dark to play on the overcast afternoon.
“We had a lot of missed opportunities,” Ibrahim said, “but at the end we just out-hustled them. We just wanted to end the game.”
“We’ve been working hard on conditioning,” said Lake Ridge coach Ryan MacRaild, whose team improved to
14-4. “And it paid off. Oberlin played well. They put pressure on us the whole game but our guys adjusted well and played hard.”
For a while it looked like the game was going to be scoreless as neither team could connect. It wasn’t until 23:49 remained in regulation that Lake Ridge senior Ryan Cross finally scored to put the Lions up 1-0 on a left-footed kick from 10 yards out on the left side.
It was Cross’s 13th goal of the season and came on an assist by Ibrahim.
Then, with only 3:25 remaining, Oberlin’s Jon Zapotechne tied it up with a sensational bicycle kick with his back to the goal in heavy traffic from about 10 yards out.
“It was the best goal I’ve ever seen,” Oberlin coach Dan LaBianca said after his team bowed out at 9-7-2, “considering the situation, with only three minutes to play and us facing defeat. And the way he kicked it, I’ve never seen anything like it and I’ve been around this game a long time. They (Lake Ridge) are a good team. We had to play hard to stay with them. It has been a great season. The kids played over their heads.”
While MacRaild was disappointed by Zapotechne’s late goal when it appeared the Lions were heading for victory in regulation, he wasn’t completely surprised.
“Jon was the co-player of the year in Lorain County so you’ve got to expect him to do something,” MacRaild said.
Lake Ridge beat Oberlin 2-0 in a similar regular-season game in September.
“That game was tight, too, and probably should have ended 1-0 because the second goal was unexpected,” MacRaild said.
In the first overtime, Oberlin actually outplayed Lake Ridge but in the second the Lions dominated right up to the winning goal.
Lake Ridge outshot Oberlin 23-12.
Lake Ridge 2, Oberlin 1
GOALS: (LR) Ryan Cross, Sami Ibrahim. (O) John Zapotechne.
ASSISTS: (LR) Ibrahim, Nathan Kafity.
SHOTS: Lake Ridge 23, Oberlin 12.
SAVES: (LR) Diego Chada 7. (O) Nathan Sabelli 7.