AVON LAKE — The Avon Eagles started the season as the new kids on the block in Division I, trying to make a name for themselves in their first year in the big-school division.
Eight weeks later, Avon is the envy of its peers as the area’s only undefeated team.
On Saturday, the Eagles put the finishing touch on an undefeated regular season with a 1-0 win at Avon Lake. They will enter postseason play with a 15-0-1 record.
Senior forward Ryan Poyle provided the Eagles with all the offense they needed in the 18th minute as he took a pass from Niko Telidis and shot it past Avon Lake’s Zac Strimbu for the only goal of the match.
It was Poyle’s 24th goal of the season.
“It’s an incredible feeling to finish the regular season undefeated,” Poyle said. “But we know come next week it doesn’t mean anything and we all start 0-0 again.”
Avon is ranked No. 4 in the state in Division I in the latest Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association poll.
“How could you not be happy with what we’ve accomplished to this point, I am extremely proud of this team,” Avon coach Chris Dore said.
“This is a team that knows how to win. Avon Lake is a good team. This gives us a good idea of what type of competition we’ll face in the tournament.”
Avon Lake (9-4-3) had more than its share of scoring chances in the second half but could not get the game-tying goal. In the 77th minute the offside flag was raised, negating an apparent Nolan Kovach goal.
With less than 90 seconds to play, midfielder Joe Villari’s pass just missed connecting with Ryan Schneider in front of the Eagles goal.
Avon goalkeeper Austin Saini made 11 saves as he tied a school record with his 12th shutout of the season.
“The wind made it hard to do everything tonight,” Saini said. “I really had to stay focused on every play.”
Dore said Saini, who has only allowed five goals in 16 games, has provided an extra layer of “stability and confidence” to the team.
In the 57th minute, Avon Lake senior forward Alex Yungvirt shot a ball that bounced behind Saini, who came out to try and break up the scoring chance. Quick thinking by Eagles defender John DeMarco saved the day, as he dashed in front of the net and got his right foot on the ball and booted it over the touch line and out of harm’s way.
“We have a team that is built for the long haul,” Avon Lake coach Dan Ogilvy said. “Avon is a very good team and a very opportunistic team. But I told my boys, ‘Look you can compete at this level.’ They’re the No. 4 team in the state and we were able to dictate the play of the match.”
The Shoremen might have another change to spoil Avon’s undefeated season as the teams will meet again in the district semifinal, provided they both get by their opening-round opponents.
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Avon 1, Avon Lake 0
GoalS: Poyle (17th minute)
SAVES: (A) Saini 11; (AL) Strimbu 5
Fouls: Avon 9, Avon Lake 5
Corner Kicks: Avon Lake 6
Offsides: Avon 1, Avon Lake 1
Yellow Cards: Avon coach (28th minute), Manouchehri (57th minute)
Halftime: Avon, 1-0