AVON — It was a classic matchup that lived up to all expectations Thursday night at Avon Stadium as a pair of state-ranked teams battled for the Division I boys district soccer title.
No. 5 Avon got the only goal of the match off the left foot of Niko Telidis in the 52nd minute to defeat No. 10 Amherst 1-0 and win its first Division I district title.
The win propelled the Eagles (18-0-1) into the regional semifinals where they’ll face Copley on Tuesday at Bay High School.
More photos below.
“We knew it would be a tough match,” Telidis said. “The intensity out there was incredible tonight.”
Telidis found himself in the right place at the right time to score his eighth goal of the season when a Jack Poyle throw-in from deep on the Amherst side of the pitch sailed into the penalty box where it bounced off an Amherst defender before Telidis knocked it into the back of the net.
“This was a tremendous Amherst team that we were facing tonight,” a jubilant Avon coach Chris Dore said. “We were well-prepared for this match. We did the same thing tonight we did in the first meeting.”
Avon defeated the Comets 3-1 early in the season.
Amherst (15-2-1) outshot the Eagles 10-4 and dominated most of the second half playing as many as seven men on its forward line as it tried in vain to score the game-tying goal.
“The season is ending too soon,” Amherst coach Brett Thompson said. “Avon had a great team but this is tough to take right now. There is no way I can ever say enough about these seniors I have. Their talent, character, heart and desire will be impossible to replace.”
One of those seniors, Notre Dame recruit Connor Klekota, almost put the Comets on the board twice in the opening minutes of the match. In the fourth minute his free kick from just outside the box smacked off the crossbar. Seven minutes later he put the ball in the net off a pass from Marcus Schmitz only to have the goal disallowed on an offside call.
Avon goalkeeper Austin Saini recorded his school-record 13th shutout.
“It was the defense and the goalkeeping that won the game for us tonight,” Dore said.
One defender who stood out for the Eagles was senior left back Kevin Manouchehri, who spent most of the night following Klekota around the field.
“Kevin has been our superstar on defense all season,” Dore said. “He usually controls the entire defense from the left back.”
Telidis said Avon has not achieved its goals.
“It’s a great feeling tonight but we still have a lot more to accomplish,” he said. “Before the tournament started we decided we have to get at least as far as the state semifinals because we want to get a chance to play St. Ignatius.”
Avon 1, Amherst 0
- Goal: Telidis (52nd minute)
- Assist: J. Poyle
- Saves: (Am) Meggitt 3; (A) Saini 10
- Fouls: Amherst 9, Avon 7
- Corner Kicks: Amherst 2, Avon 4
- Yellow Cards: (A) Manouchehri (26th minute), Telidis (29th minute), Cannon (60th minute)
- Halftime: 0-0
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or email@example.com.