BRUNSWICK — The refs called a handball violation against each team Tuesday night as Westlake clashed with Medina in a Division I regional semifinal.
The second one was routine. The first one — less than 1:30 into the match — cost Westlake its soccer season.
The Westlake handball, whistled against junior Lee Grossman, not only occurred in the Demons’ box, it amounted to a save on a Medina shot that was headed straight for the net. By rule, it resulted in a red card and automatic ejection for Grossman, and a penalty kick for the Bees.
For the Demons, it meant playing a man short for more than 78½ minutes of their biggest game of the year. Medina nailed the penalty kick in the second minute, then playing 11-against-10, added a goal in the 22nd minute for a 2-0 victory.
“That’ll cut your gizzard out,” Westlake athletics director Dennis Bartlett said of the disastrous handball.
On top of it all, the Demons’ David Schade, an Ohio State recruit, and Aidan Fenix each received two yellow cards late in the frustrating second half. By rule, two yellow cards in a match also result in ejection. A team is permitted to substitute for players ejected because of two yellows.
The result is Medina (16-1-3) advances to a regional final at
3 p.m. Saturday against the winner of Tuesday’s Findlay-Sylvania Northview match in suburban Lima. Westlake goes home with a 12-5-3 record.
“We could stand here and blame everybody,” said Demons coach Mike Besu. “I’m not going to blame anybody. You guys saw the game.”
But he elaborated.
“I think the fans came to see the kids play,” Besu said. “I’m not saying there weren’t fouls, but you know what? It’s a regional semifinal. These are high school boys and you gotta let them play.”
But even after losing in the most unusual and frustrating way, he was gracious.
“You have to give credit to Medina,” said Besu. “They came to play. They put us under pressure, we made a crucial mistake in the (second) minute of the game, and we never recovered.”
About that crucial mistake. It happened quickly in a scramble in front of the Westlake goal and went something like this: The Bees’ Nate Vidika got off a hard shot that Westlake keeper Tim Hipskind saved, but didn’t control. On the rebound, Medina’s Jordan Clark sent a head shot back at the net. That’s when Grossman made his hand save.
With the big disadvantage, Westlake got off only five shots all night and only one of them was on goal. That made an easy night for Medina keeper Kevin Mahin, who was forced to make just one save.
Still, the shorthanded Demons limited Medina to 20 total shots, only six of which were on goal. Hipskind was credited with seven saves, thanks to plays he broke up before the Bees could get a shot on goal.
It all went back to the red card.
“The funny thing is, he (head official) wouldn’t even come and explain anything,” said Besu. “Was it the proper call? You guys (make the judgment) about that. At this magnitude of the game, I think you can make a different call. Fine. It’s a big game. But is it a red card and a PK at the same time?”
Medina 2, Westlake 0
GOALS: (M) Nate Vidika (PK), 2nd minute; Clay Febus, 22nd minute.
ASSISTS: (M) Nick Lupica.
SHOTS: Westlake 5, Medina 20.
SHOTS ON FRAME: Westlake 1, Medina 6.
SAVES: (W) Tim Hipskind 7. (M) Kevin Mahin 1.
CORNER KICKS: Medina 4.
GOAL KICKS: Westlake 9, Medina 3.
OFFSIDE: Westlake 2, Medina 1.
HAND BALLS: Westlake 1, Medina 1.
OTHER INFRACTIONS: Westlake 9, Medina 13.
CARDS: (W) Less Grossman, red (ejection) 2nd minute; Aidan Fenix, 2 yellow (ejection) 47th, 65th minutes; David Schade, 2 yellow (ejection) 56th, 63rd minutes.
HALFTIME: Medina, 2-0.
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7137 or email@example.com.