NORTH OLMSTED — Westlake coach Mike Besu certainly is savoring his third trip to the Sweet 16.
Besu saw his second-seeded Demons earn that trip after they shut out North Olmsted 3-0 in a Division I district championship game Saturday night.
With their win, the Demons (12-4-3) advance to a regional semifinal game against Medina at Brunswick High School on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Bees shut out Wadsworth 2-0 Saturday night to claim their district title.
Besu’s other district championships came in 1995 and 2004. Three years ago, the Demons made it to the Final Four before losing a state semifinal game to eventual state champion St. Ignatius.
“We watched films of our earlier game with North Olmsted this season,” said Besu. “I felt we were the better team and saw some weaknesses that I wanted us to take advantage of.”
Junior defender Kevin Murthy’s header from six yards out in the 22nd minute produced Westlake’s (12-4-3) first goal.
“This feels really good,” said Murthy. “Aidan (Fenix) had a good play on the ball and I was able to finish things off.”
Senior midfielder David Schade duplicated Murthy’s feat three minutes later, with freshman forward Matt Hritz getting an assist. The header from six yards out came as the Demons were able to capitalize on their only corner kick of the game.
“I want to help my team out as much as I can,” said Schade, who’s headed to play soccer at Ohio State. “Teams tend to double- and triple-team me. When they do, it’s nice to see that things open up for my teammates.”
“We broke North Olmsted’s backs when we went up 2-0,” said Besu. “It’s hard to come back when that happens, even when you have two teams of the caliber that you saw in this game.”
“We played our worst half of the season in the first half,” said North Olmsted coach Chris Marsh. “We did some decent things but found it hard to fight back when we went down 2-0.”
The first good scoring opportunity for the top-seeded Eagles (12-3-4) came with just over 18 minutes left to play. Sophomore midfielder Kurtis Russell got inside the box to face Westlake goalie Tim Hipskind one-on-one. Hipskind kept his composure and made the save.
“That was a great save on Russell’s shot,” said Marsh. “If Kurtis had only been able to score, it surely would have changed the complexion of this game.”
Westlake’s Alex Chernosky, another freshman forward, got into the scorebook two minutes after Russell’s near-miss.
“I tried to turn on the ball and was able to do so,” said Chernosky. “From there, I was able to rip it with my right foot and score from 12 yards out.”
North Olmsted sophomore midfielder John Rodriguez ripped a free kick from 25 yards out right at Hipskind, who again made an excellent save. Eagles junior defender Brian Lauer’s shot from close range with five-and-a-half minutes left to play resulted in another of Hipskind’s four saves.
“We played our style of game,” said Besu. “If our kids execute what we tell them, they make their coaches look great. If they don’t, we are goats. Our kids did what we planned and were in the right places at the right times.”
Contact Jerry Henson at 329-7137 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Westlake 3, North Olmsted 0
GOALS: (W) Kevin Murthy (22nd minute), David Schade (25th minute), Alex Chernosky (64th minute).
ASSISTS: (W) Aidan Fenix, Matt Hritz, Marc Behar.
SHOTS: Westlake 17; North Olmsted 12.
SHOTS ON GOAL: Westlake 10; North Olmsted 4.
SAVES: (W) Tim Hipskind 4; (NO) Chris Arlinghaus 7.
CORNER KICKS: Westlake 1; North Olmsted 3.
HALFTIME: Westlake, 2-0.