AMHERST — Amherst withstood a wild and woolly ending Saturday and came away with a 3-2 win over Southwestern Conference foe Avon Lake in a Division I boys district soccer final.
With their first-ever district championship, the Comets
(10-7-2) advance to a regional semifinal against North Royalton on Tuesday at Bay High at 7 p.m. The Bears defeated Strongsville 1-0 in a Brunswick district final Saturday.
Amherst played in a district final in 1992 but lost that game, which came one season after coach Brett Thompson graduated from the school.
“This truly was an unbelievable game,” Thompson said. “I didn’t think that it could top our district semifinal win over Westlake (a 1-0 decision after three rounds of penalty kicks). There was a big scramble at the end and that had me worried that we would go overtime.”
“Things were really crazy at the end,” Comets senior goalie Ryan Tucker said. “I got to the ball, took my six seconds and punted it harmlessly away.”
Avon Lake coach Dan Ogilvy obviously was disappointed with the final outcome and the failure to get the tying goal at the end.
“We had our chances to equalize things and probably go to overtime,” said Ogilvy, whose team finished the season 8-8-3. “Unfortunately, Amherst was able to withstand our pressure and to advance.”
Junior Chris Schmittle of the Comets scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in the 70th minute after the teams played a scoreless first half.
Schmittle’s game-winner came when he found Avon Lake’s goalie out of position and rifled the ball into the net for the unassisted goal.
”The Shoremen tried to drop the ball back to their goalie,” Schmittle said. “I got to it before the goalie could and ripped it by him with my left foot.”
The Comets scored the game’s first two goals in a little over five minutes early in the second half. Senior Chad Schroeder, with an assist from Lee Ferber, buried the ball in the lower-left corner of the goal 1:19 into the second half from about 10 yards out.
Ferber put the district champions up 2-0 with an unassisted goal five minutes later when he drilled a left-foot shot into the net from 10 yards away.
Avon Lake senior captain Nick Siko cut Amherst’s lead in half with his unassisted goal from close range in the 65th minute.
Four minutes after Schmittle’s game-winner, Siko successfully converted a penalty kick, booting the ball low and hard into the net after he was apparently fouled in the box.
“Avon Lake was well-prepared for this game,” said Thompson, whose team’s win avenges a 2-1 home loss to the Shoremen on Sept. 3. “We needed the plays that we made to win in a game that I was really happy to have two Lorain County teams playing in.
“I push heart and compassion for team chemistry. I really don’t want our season to end. I’m very proud of our coaching staff. I hope we can get this far in the tournaments every year.”
“The Comets did what they had to do to win this game,” Ogilvy said. “The ball didn’t bounce our way. Hopefully, we will take this as a learning experience.”
Amherst 3, Avon Lake 2
GOALS: (AL) Nick Siko 2; (A) Chad Schroeder, Lee Ferber, Chris Schmittle
ASSIST: (A) Lee Ferber
SHOTS: Avon Lake 12; Amherst 11
SHOTS ON GOAL: Avon Lake 3; Amherst 9
SAVES: (AL) Bryce Stuart 1, Logan Crist 5; (A) Ryan Tucker 2