ELYRIA — For the second time in this young season, Avon played the role of giant killers. This time the victim was Elyria Catholic.
The Eagles scored three unanswered goals Wednesday to escape Knights of Columbus Field with a 3-1 win in a West Shore Conference match.
Earlier in the season, Avon (5-0, 2-0 WSC) went on the road and defeated an Amherst team that started the season ranked among the best in Ohio by the same score.
“This was a big win for us tonight against a good team,” Avon coach Chris Dore said. “We faced two of the toughest teams we are going to see all season and beat them both, but this team knows we have 11 more regular-season games to go and they are all equally important.”
Elyria Catholic took an early lead in the third minute on a header by Doug Ellingson that bounced through the hands of Avon goalkeeper Austin Saini.
After that it was almost all Avon.
Senior midfielder Brendan Cannon tied the match in the 16th minute when his shot from 30 yards out sailed perfectly into the upper-left corner of the goal. It was Cannon’s third goal of the season.
“Whenever I see an open shot I take it,” he said. “Sometimes it’s a lot of hit and miss. Getting that first goal on the board really helped us to settle down.”
By packing its defense in front of the goal on corner kicks and throw-ins, Avon was able to neutralize the Panthers’ strength on restarts.
“We knew how good they are on throw-ins,” Dore said of the Panthers. “That was something we were able to prepare for.”
In the 46th minute, Michael Smigel put Avon ahead to stay with a shot that deflected off a Panthers defender before finding the back of the net. Eagles leading scorer Ryan Poyle scored the final goal of the game in the 60th minute, dribbling through a pair of defenders before beating goalkeeper Taylor Robinson.
“I saw an opening and took it,” Poyle said. “Once I’m able to get a shot I know how to finish. Elyria Catholic is a good team, they play physical defense. In the second half we were able to go wide and set up our crossing passes because we’re a team that’s in really good shape. We don’t get tired late in games.”
Elyria Catholic (3-1, 1-1 in the WSC) outshot the Eagles 6-3 in the first half but was unable to put together strong scoring chances. In the second half, they had fewer chances but squandered a pair of prime scoring opportunities when forward Vincent Faraji’s shot sailed over the crossbar as he went one-on-one against the Avon goalkeeper.
Senior David Elwer shot in the 76th minute looked to be headed into the net before smacking into the goalpost and rolling harmlessly back to Saini.
“I always enjoy playing Avon,” EC coach Mike Wisnor said. “They’re good team and Chris is a great coach. We love to play strong Division I programs like them because it gets us better prepared for tournament play. We got shots tonight but just didn’t finish. Avon finished when they got chances. That was the difference in the game.”
Avon 3, Elyria Catholic 1
- Goals: (A) Cannon (16th minute), Smigel (46th minute), Poyle, R. (60th minute); (EC) Ellingson (3rd minute)
- Goalkeepers: (A) Saini 8 saves; (EC) Robinson 6 saves
- Shots on goal: Avon 9, Elyria Catholic 9
- Corner Kicks: Avon 2, Elyria Catholic 8
- Fouls: Avon 9, Elyria Catholic 16
- Offside: Avon 4, Elyria Catholic 2
- Halftime: 1-1
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or email@example.com.