YORK TWP. — Wednesday’s showdown between Buckeye and Oberlin had more elements of a title fight than a soccer match. A championship was on the line, the matchup was preceded by a year of anticipation and one shot set the tone for the rest of the battle.
That shot, off the right foot of Buckeye senior Tyler Yurik in the 29th minute, accounted for all the scoring as the Bucks held on for a hard-fought 1-0 win to remain atop the Patriot Athletic Conference standings.
Yurik scored his goal after a shot by teammate Dan Oswald bounced off the hands of Oberlin goalkeeper Storm Ferguson just as Yurik charged in to play a potential rebound.
“We could see that a lot of balls were bouncing off his hands so as soon as I saw Dan take the initial shot I just started charging in,” Yurik said.
Buckeye (8-1-1, 5-0-1 PAC) dominated the first half, outshooting the Phoenix 11-4 and setting the tone on its home field where it has not lost a match since 2010.
“You have to play two halves of soccer to win a game like this,” Oberlin coach Matt Fox said. “We came out timid in the first half. Once we relaxed we played well in the second half, but we had already dug a hole for ourselves by that point.”
Oberlin (7-1, 4-1) got off six shots in the second half — three of which came in breakaway situations — and midfielders Sam Levine and Sam Weiss forced Bucks goalkeeper Aaron Klubnik to make acrobatic saves to preserve the shutout.
“That last shot was the most nervous I have ever been on a soccer field,” said Klubnik, a four-year starter for Buckeye. “When I saw the final seconds ticking down it was a feeling of relief and excitement because that was the toughest team we are going to face in the conference this season. There was a lot of buildup to this match and to have it at home was a huge edge for us.”
Although it was a total team effort for the Bucks, it was the defense — which shut down Oberlin’s Sam Weiss, the PAC’s leading scorer — and the goalkeeping of Klubnik that proved to be the difference.
“I’m proud of the way the boys played tonight,” Buckeye coach Joe Serio said. “What can you really say about Aaron, he is a leader on this team and he has a lot of moxie and spirit. He always plays his best at the biggest moments.”
The Phoenix had six corner kicks compared to one for Buckeye, but Oberlin was unable to capitalize on its set pieces.
“This was the biggest win of the season for us,” Yurik said. “This should set the tone and give us the confidence to be able to compete with anyone else we face this season.”
With wins over Oberlin, Keystone and Lutheran West, Buckeye has now defeated every PAC team with a winning record and controls its own destiny the rest of the way.
“Tonight we faced our toughest opponent and just as we expected, they came out and played with heart, skill and sportsmanship,” Serio said. “This is a match the kids looked forward to all year. Now we just have to keep this momentum going the rest of the season.”
Buckeye 1, Oberlin 0
- GOAL: Yurik (29th minute)
- ASSIST: Oswald
- SAVES: (O) Ferguson 12; (B) Klubnik 9.
- SHOTS ON GOAL: Oberlin 9; Buckeye 14.
- FOULS: Oberlin 7; Buckeye 12.
- CORNER KICKS: Oberlin 6; Buckeye 1.
- OFFSIDES: Buckeye 2.
- HALFTIME: 1-0.
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.