NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Neighborhood rivals Avon and North Ridgeville produced a West Shore Conference soccer thriller Wednesday night that was decided by penalty kicks — one on the money, the other wide of the mark.
The result was a 1-1 tie made possible in the 28th minute by Tristan Coffey. The Rangers’ senior tri-captain skimmed his penalty kick under the crossbar and into the upper right corner to overtake the Eagles, who had led 1-0 for 23 minutes.
Coffey modestly described his goal as “legendary.”
“They crossed it in, I was putting my body on it and I guess he (an Avon defender) fouled me,” Coffey said. “I put the ball down and the keeper said I wasn’t going to score. So I looked him dead in the eye and popped it right up. Legendary.”
If Coffey’s goal — his second of the season — was legendary, then the work of Rangers goalkeeper Kyle Milner, a sophomore, bordered on superhuman.
Milner made a highlight-film save in the 75th minute with Avon applying serious pressure deep in the North Ridgeville end.
“They caught me moving right and I just turned around,” Milner said. “I got up and I guess I just felt a burst of speed and dove on it. It was about 2 or 3 feet away from going in. I was thinking, ‘Is the attacker going to get to the ball or did I have enough time to get on it.’”
He had the time.
Avon took the lead in the fifth minute on a bang-bang offensive sequence that saw senior midfielder Will Sharer head a crossing pass into the net from 8 yards.
Avon’s Michael Smigel, a senior midfielder, had a chance to make it 2-0 in the 14th minute when he was awarded a penalty kick after a North Ridgeville foul in the Eagles box. But he hit it high over the crossbar.
Avon coach Chris Dore said the missed penalty kick was an example of his team’s mindset.
“I don’t think that one goal should make or break or win or lose us a game,” said Dore, whose Eagles (4-0-1, 1-0-1 WSC) failed to win for the first time this season. “I feel we’re better than that, although credit to those (North Ridgeville) guys.”
North Ridgeville coach Bryan Tinsley said he would have preferred a victory, but he was nevertheless happy with the way his Rangers (1-1-3, 0-0-2) bounced back.
“That team (Avon) came in with a lot of momentum,” Tinsley said. “They’ve really put a hurt on some teams. Chris (Dore) is a good coach and they’ve always got a good program. I was telling the boys last week that we’re trying to change the perception of Ridgeville — everybody always looked at us as an easy game.
“It takes time to do that, but that’s what we’re trying to do. I thought our boys played with a ton of heart. I’m not naive. I’m sure if we look at the stats they had tons more shots and more possessions, but our keeper came up big and our defense played very well.”
North Ridgeville junior Keegan Gawelek just missed the go-ahead goal when he left-footed a rocket off the football goalpost in the 69th minute. And the Eagles had a chance in the 78th minute when sophomore Christian Giraldo crossed left-to-right to senior Tony Telidis. But Telidis’ shot sailed high.
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Avon 1, North Ridgeville 1
GOALS: (A) Will Sharer (5th minute); (NR) Tristan Coffey, pk (28th).
SAVES: (A) Dylan Morris 1; (NR) Kyle Milner 5.
SHOTS: Avon 13; North Ridgeville 5.
SHOTS ON GOAL: Avon 6; North Ridgeville 2.
CORNER KICKS: Avon 6; North Ridgeville 1.
GOAL KICKS: Avon 3; North Ridgeville 10.
OFFSIDE: Avon 7; North Ridgeville 1.
HANDBALLS: Avon 1; North Ridgeville 1.
FOULS: Avon 13; North Ridgeville 9.
YELLOW CARDS: (A) Sharer (64th); (NR) Tyler George (15th).