ELYRIA — Former Elyria High soccer player and first-year Pioneer coach Greg Leininger has been here before — sort of.
As a player, Leininger played three times in the annual Elyria-Elyria Catholic rivalry and came away with a pair of losses and a tie. As a coach, Leininger now sports a 0-1 record in the affair as the Pioneers lost 2-1 Saturday at Ely Stadium.
Still, there were no sour grapes afterward, though a part of Leininger wanted to throw on a jersey and jump right into the action himself.
“Oh, yeah, I was itching to get out there and play,” Leininger said. “But my time has come and gone and now it’s these players’ turn to go out there and enjoy it. I had an amazing time coaching this game and although we didn’t win, it was still a great game.
“I think this will show everyone that soccer in the city of Elyria is in good shape. We had a lot of fans out here for both teams and it was really an intense, physical and well-played game.”
Elyria Catholic’s 9-2-1 record coming in made it the overwhelming favorite over the 3-5-5 Pioneers, at least on paper. But after 80 minutes of action, six cards, an ejection, numerous warnings from the officials and constant bumping between players, the fans in the stands were treated to one of the best games in the series.
EC struck first in the 10th minute when Joe Jovanovski passed the ball to Anthony Saxton. Elyria goalkeeper Jared Backs came 20 yards out of the goal to try to intercept the pass, but Saxton got there first, made a move to the right and put the ball right into the middle of the net for a 1-0 lead.
“Joe’s pass gave me a one-on-one with the keeper,” Saxton said. “I made a quick move and was able to get around him (Backs) and then it was an easy, open shot.”
Saxton wasn’t done, however.
In the 32nd minute, EC’s Doug Janosik threw the ball in from the side as Saxton took position near Elyria’s goal. Saxton took the perfectly placed pass and fired it into the net for a 2-0 lead.
“That was an amazing throw by Doug,” Saxton said. “He’s got a great arm and he put it in the only place I could have gotten the shot off.”
The Pioneers answered three minutes later when Rayshawn Camel, who was ejected in the 66th minute after receiving his second yellow card and a red, scored on an assist from David Robinson.
The scored remained that way into the break and throughout the second half. With the score tight, both teams turned up the physical play. The end result? No goals for either side in the final 40 minutes, but an intensity level that rivaled a playoff game.
“It was a physical game on both sides,” EC coach Mike Wisnor said. “This was a classic Elyria Cup battle. Elyria has played teams well all year and we knew that this was going to be a battle down to the end.
“We talked to the kids about keeping their head into the game, but that’s tough to do sometimes in a game like this. Emotions were high and it’s easy to get distracted when things get like that. I thought this was one of the better rivalry games and that’s a tribute to both teams.”
Saxton agreed, even giving Elyria some bulletin board material for next year.
“It was a chippy game with a lot of fouls in the middle going back and forth,” Saxton said. “You’ll get that in a rivalry game. Emotions run high. I think at the end, though, the better team won.”
Contact Hans Schneider at 329-7135
Elyria Catholic 2, Elyria 1
GOALS: (EC) Anthony Saxton 2. (E) Rayshawn Camel.
ASSISTS: (EC) Joe Jovanovski, Doug Janosik. (E) David Robinson
SHOTS: Elyria Catholic 19, Elyria 14.
SHOTS ON FRAME: Elyria Catholic 15, Elyria 6.
SAVES: (EC) Frank Sanabria 5, (E) Jared Backs 13.
CORNER KICKS: Elyria Catholic 2, Elyria 0.
GOAL KICKS: Elyria Catholic 3, Elyria 4.
OFFSIDE: Elyria Catholic 4, Elyria 1.
CARDS: (EC) Sean Miller yellow, 28th minute; Bench yellow, 47th minute; Alex Miehls yellow, 70th minute; Saxton 72nd minute. (E) Camel yellow, 49th minute; Camel yellow/red, 66th minute.
EJECTED: (E) Camel.
HALFTIME: EC, 2-1.
EC girls blank Elyria again
ELYRIA — For first-year Elyria Catholic head coach David Leigh, the crosstown rivalry game with Elyria High was a new experience. While he knew the Panthers had won last year’s meeting, he was unaware there was any type of trophy involved until, as he said, “one just turned up.”
Despite his lack of knowledge on the history of the matchup, Leigh did know one thing for sure. He knew he didn’t want to lose the game.
His Panthers made sure that didn’t happen by scoring early and rolling to a 6-0 victory Saturday at Ely Stadium in the first game of the annual boys-girls doubleheader. The win marks the 11th straight year EC has won the Cup and the fifth straight in which they haven’t allowed a goal.
“This was an important win for us in more ways than one,” Leigh said. “First, we won the rivalry game and that means a lot to the girls, as well as the school. Second, we’re in a span where we play five games in eight days and we were able to go deep into our bench today.
“So we were able to get some of the girls a lot more rest than normal and others saw more action, thereby getting more game-play experience. Hopefully, it will help us get through the week and ready for the playoffs.”
The Panthers (6-6) didn’t waste time, getting on the board in the fourth minute on an unassisted goal by Kara Schmittgen. All the Panther goals, in fact, were solo efforts.
Schmittgen picked up her second goal at the midway point of the first half on a ball she shot into the corner of the goal.
“That’s kind of what I do, aim for the corner,” Schmittgen said. “The second goal kind of loosened us up a bit. Even though we’ve done well in these games, you never know what’s going to happen. Having a two-goal lead gave us a chance to breathe easier and just have some fun.”
Trailing 2-0, the Pioneers were able to keep the Panthers out of the net until the last 45 seconds of the first half when Michelle Clark scored the first of her two goals to give the Panthers a 3-0 halftime lead. Four minutes into the second half, Clark found the back of the net again, upping the EC lead to 4-0.
Goals by Nina Dixon and Stephanie Recko rounded out the EC scoring.
Contact Hans Schneider
Elyria Catholic 6, Elyria 0
GOALS: (EC) Kara Schmittgen 2, Michelle Clark 2, Nina Dixon, Stephanie Recko.
SHOTS: Elyria Catholic 16, Elyria 5.
SHOTS ON FRAME: Elyria Catholic 12, Elyria 4.
SAVES: (EC) Megan Meihls 4, (E) Samantha Wilhelm 9.
CORNER KICKS: Elyria Catholic 5, Elyria 2
GOAL KICKS: Elyria Catholic 2, Elyria 6
OFFSIDE: Elyria Catholic 3, Elyria 1
CARDS: (EC) Clark yellow, 25th minute; (E) Marija Illievska yellow, 22nd minute.
HALFTIME: EC, 3-0.