AVON LAKE — It’s seven straight wins for Avon Lake’s streaking soccer team.
The Shoremen clinched a tie for second place in the Southwestern Conference on Wednesday night with a tough 3-2 victory over North Olmsted. It was Senior Night in Avon Lake Memorial Stadium.
It would seem the Shoremen are on a roll at just the right time. They have one non-conference regular-season match to play — against Solon on Saturday — before their first sectional tournament match Oct. 19 against the Midview-North Ridgeville winner.
Avon Lake (8-4-3, 3-1-2 SWC) got the winner in the 64th minute on a goal by senior midfielder Eric Mills, after the Eagles came back twice to tie. Mills, in the right place at the right time, controlled the rebound after North Olmsted keeper Alexander Gajowski made a nice save on Logan Delong’s hard shot.
Fortuitously, from an Avon Lake point of view, Mills was standing unattended near the right goalpost and the ball wound up at his feet.
“Logan had a breakaway down the left side,” said Mills, who scored his third goal of the season. “He took a nice shot and it went off the keeper. I was right there and I had an easy tap-in. This is important for us, because it’s a good rivalry and it’s nice to beat these guys.”
North Olmsted (7-5-4, 2-2-2) did well without senior midfielder Stefan Spanu, who was injured in the Lakewood match last week. Chris Marsh, the Eagles veteran coach, said he expects Spanu to be ready for the first sectional game with the Berea-Lakewood winner Oct. 19.
With Spanu out, North Olmsted got a big performance from sophomore midfielder Max Becker, who scored both goals. He tied the score at 1 with a goal in the 39th minute and at 2 when he controlled a loose ball in the Avon Lake box and kicked it in during the 63rd minute.
Marsh also said that, despite the tough loss, he was happy with the way his team played.
“We were shorthanded without Spanu, so I give our guys a lot of credit fighting back twice,” he said. “I wasn’t real pleased with (Avon Lake’s) third goal because I thought they got away with a foul as they started the run. But this kind of game was good for us, just to show that even being shorthanded, we can hang.”
Avon Lake went up 1-0 on a pretty goal by Bailey Stephenson. He connected from nearly 40 yards over Gajowski’s outstretched arms in the 21st minute. After Becker’s equalizer in the final minute before the break, senior midfielder Kyle T. Smith, with an assist from Mills, scored in the 55th minute for a 2-1 Avon Lake lead.
And when Becker tied it again eight minutes later, it set the stage for Mills’ heroics.
Shoremen coach Matt DeCapua was happy with the win.
“We have some momentum going for us and when you play a good team like North Olmsted, you can put the records aside,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of energy and they came to play. Sometimes good teams don’t always win pretty, but they find ways to win like we did tonight.”
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Avon Lake 3, North Olmsted 2
GOALS: (NO) Max Becker 2 (39th, 63rd minutes). (AL) Bailey Stephenson (21st), Kyle F. Smith (55th), Eric Mills (64th).
SAVES: (NO) Alexander Gajowski 3; (AL) Kane Adams 4.
SHOTS: North Olmsted 9; Avon Lake 10.
SHOTS ON GOAL: North Olmsted 6; Avon Lake 6.
CORNER KICKS: Avon Lake 5.
GOAL KICKS: North Olmsted 10; Avon Lake 5.
OFFSIDE: North Olmsted 1; Avon Lake 2.
FOULS: North Olmsted 11; Avon Lake 10.
YELLOW CARDS: (NO) Becker ((65th); (AL) Stephenson (66th), Avon Lake (80th).