STRONGSVILLE — Avon Lake kept two streaks alive on a cold Wednesday night in a Division I district semifinal.
First, the Shoremen continued to give their best Kardiac Kids impression with another late rally. Second, that rally helped them win their 10th straight game.
The Shoremen’s Kyle T. Smith scored in the 75th minute to help his team advance past Strongsville 1-0.
The Shoremen (11-4-3) will host Westlake — a 4-2 winner over North Olmsted in the other district semi — and look to break another streak. Avon Lake coach Matt DeCapua said the Shoremen hadn’t beaten the Demons since 2001. The teams tied 1-1 earlier this year.
“We’re a strong second-half team,” DeCapua said. “A lot of games have been decided late in the second half. When you play us, you know you’re going to have to play a full game.”
Strongsville had the bulk of the game’s best chances, especially in the second half when the Mustangs repeatedly pressed Avon Lake keeper Kane Adams. But Adams was up to the task and kept the sheet clean long enough for the Shoremen to take advantage of a Mustangs miscue aided by the wet turf.
While Strongsville saw none of the snow parts farther north did, the field still was quite slick. In the 75th minute, Strongsville turned the ball over in the Shoremen end, seemingly innocently enough. But Evan Carlson controlled the ball and fed Ian Stewart in the center circle, and Stewart turned with space to take.
He then chipped over the Mustangs back line, drawing Strongsville keeper Reese Laurell from his box to clear it. But Laurell slipped, and Smith — for whom the through ball was intended — easily deposited the ball into the net.
“That was our game plan, to chip it over their defenders, and I have a lot of speed,” Smith said. “I just tried to run on to it and see what happens, and luck was on our side tonight.”
Before the goal, each team had other chances to break the scoreless tie. In the second half, it was Strongsville, as Drew Shepherd’s shot in the 43rd minute bounced off the crossbar and was cleared and later, in the 55th minute, Antonio Burgoa, on a slick feed from J.T. Waag, was in alone on Adams. But Burgoa tried to juke around Adams, and Adams went to the turf and took the ball off Burgoa’s feet.
“I’m so proud of Kane,” said DeCapua, who told reporters Adams had been voted Lorain County’s goalkeeper of the year. “Game after game, he’s come up with a lot of really good saves. I warmed him up and asked him to carry us.”
In the first half, Avon Lake had the best chances, which included Logan DeLong’s shot in the 22nd minute on a strong 1-2-3 punch that went off the post. In the 28th minute, Strongsville failed to clear a long free kick in its own penalty area, but Laurell turned away Furrer, at whose feet the failed clearance landed. In the 36th minute, the Shoremen nearly capitalized when a Mustangs defender slipped on the wet turf. But Nick Fowkes’ shot went over the bar.
Still, Strongsville (7-11-1) outshot the Shoremen 18-8 and had seven shots on goal to Avon Lake’s five, but again failed to put the ball in the net. That included another chance in the first half, when Burgoa again was turned away on a breakaway against Adams. That, coach Tobey Cook said, has been Strongsville’s M.O. all season.
“That’s the way it’s been — play good soccer, create good chances, but (not capitalizing) comes back to bite you,” Cook said. “That’s the way it goes sometimes — soccer is a cruel sport. If you don’t finish them off, what happened tonight can happen.”
Contact Joel Hammond at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Avon Lake 1, Strongsville 0
GOALS: Avon Lake — Kyle T. Smith (75th).
ASSISTS: Avon Lake — Ian Stewart.
SHOTS: Avon Lake 8, Strongsville 18.
SHOTS ON GOAL: Avon Lake 5, Strongsville 7.
SAVES: Avon Lake — Kane Adams 7; Strongsville — Reese Laurell 4.
CORNER KICKS: Avon Lake 2, Strongsville 6.
GOAL KICKS: Avon Lake 18, Strongsville 5.
OFFSIDE: Avon Lake 1, Strongsville 2.
FOULS: Avon Lake 10, Strongsville 5.