FAIRVIEW PARK — The Firelands boys soccer team maintained its undefeated record Wednesday night.
The Falcons also kept the record unblemished by fighting back under pressure to avoid a tie with a persistent Fairview team, pulling out a 2-1 victory in Patriot Athletic Conference action.
Firelands senior Nate Yorks created the victory at a time when it seemed Fairview would earn a hard-fought tie.
But in a chaotic play with just over a minute left, Yorks scored his second goal of the night and 14th of the season to send the Falcons home with their eighth win of the season.
They are unbeaten and untied.
Yorks also scored Firelands’ first goal on a penalty kick in the 27th minute. He put the ball into the lower right corner after Falcons’ freshman Patrick Brightbill was taken down in the Fairview box.
As for the game-winner, Yorks said it happened on a play the Falcons have worked on in practice.
“We put the ball out wide, get it into the corners and slot it back across,” he said. “It was a great team effort. We got it up the field, into the corner and it was just a matter of me staying calm and putting the ball into the back of the net.”
The Falcons seemed to be headed for a 1-0 victory until the Fairview offense came alive after the break.
Warriors senior Barry Myers just missed the Firelands net with a free kick from 19 yards in the 43rd minute.
Then freshman Elion Bendo shocked them when he tied the score at 1 with a goal in the 54th minute.
It came as the second shot in a bang-bang sequence in which Fariview (5-3, 2-2) senior Ray Galindo fired a rocket off the Falcons’ crossbar. Bendo was there to control the rebound and score on a play Firelands keeper Bryce Bartolotta could do nothing about.
The whole scene was unusual because the Falcons’ defense limited the Warriors to 13 shots — five on goal.
Bartolotta said he was uneasy when Fairview came on strong in the second half.
“They got some breakaways and I thought they might get a lot more shots,” Bartolotta said. “But our defense held them.”
As for the PK, Yorks said he never knows where he will try to place one until he steps up to the ball. Hitting it lower right, he said, is probably the easiest shot to take.
“There are less variables,” he said. “The keeper’s not keyed to one side, so it’s pretty much you’re going to go for whatever’s easiest. That’s what’s easiest for me.”
Firelands coach Kennie Searight was happy with the outcome.
“Right now, we’re the only team that’s undefeated on the Stars (Division) side,” he said. “Basically, we have at least a one-game lead on our side. So we kind of control our destiny. We have four (PAC) games left.”
And he was very pleased with the Falcons’ defense.
“To be honest, this is the hallmark of our year,” Searight said. “I know that we’ve had a high-scoring offense and a lot of people talk about our offense. But ultimately the defense — you know, we have five shutouts in eight games. So the kudos go to Bryce and the guys who are in the trenches every day. They give us the opportunity to be creative.”
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Firelands 2, Fairview 1
GOALS: (Fir) Nate Yorks 2 (pk 27th, 78th minutes). (Frv) Elion Bendo (54th).
ASSISTS: (Frv) Ray Galindo.
SAVES: (Fir) Bryce Bartolotta 4; (Frv) Kevin Gibbons 1, Dan Karliak 3.
SHOTS: Firelands 14; Fairview 13.
SHOTS ON GOAL: Firelands 6; Fairview 5.
CORNER KICKS: Firelands 8; Fairview 3.
GOAL KICKS: Firelands 7; Fairview 20.
OFFSIDE: Firelands 3.
HANDBALLS: Firelands 2; Fairview 1.
HALF: Firelands, 1-0.