BRUNSWICK â€” Westlake coach Mike Besu thought his teamâ€™s ability to control the midfield Tuesday would dictate if it would advance past Medina in the Findlay Division I Regional semifinals.
The Demons wound up losing 2-0 because they finished the game with three of their top midfielders on the sideline â€” thanks to three very costly red cards.
The first put the Demons in a rut early, and the following two made sure that a comeback wasnâ€™t in the cards.
Not even two minutes into the contest, Westlake junior defender Lee Grossman was given a red card for grabbing a potential goal off the head of Medinaâ€™s Jordan Clark. Demons goalkeeper Tim Hipskind lunged and got a hand on Clarkâ€™s attempt, but Grossman instinctively grabbed the ball with both of his hands.
Grossman was given a red card and ejected, which forced Westlake to play with 10 boys for the remainder of the game.
It also forced Besu to find a way to compensate.
â€œWe tried different formations and had to move kids in different positions,â€ he said. â€œWe had to move our sweeper to a midfielder and we had to go on without one of our best midfielders.â€
Besu wound up having to move Vinny Stellato, who was nursing an ankle sprain, to Grossmanâ€™s spot.
â€œThe guys were frustrated,â€ Besu said. â€œWhen youâ€™re losing 2-0 and making changes and nothing is working, they got a little frustrated.â€
Ohio State-bound midfielder David Schade collected the teamâ€™s second red card with 26:16 left and was ejected. Midfielder Aidan Fenix was issued his second yellow card and got tossed less than 30 seconds later.
â€œThat broke our back,â€ Besu said. â€œWe were already in trouble at that time and then all of a sudden (Schade) is gone, and we couldnâ€™t come back from that.â€
Schadeâ€™s second yellow came from playing aggressive defense as he was called for a tripping foul. As he was walking away, he threw his hands in the air and the official flashed the red.
â€œI could see the first yellow cards,â€ Besu said. â€œBut at some point, you have to walk away and let the kids be frustrated.â€
Medina coach Mark Malikowski said he was never worried about a potential letdown with his team being given an advantage.
â€œNot with this group,â€ he said. â€œIn the past, maybe, but in our last four playoff games we havenâ€™t had any lull like we had in the regular season.â€
Despite Westlakeâ€™s midfield being ravaged, Malikowski didnâ€™t think the cards made much of a difference in the outcome.
â€œWe still wouldnâ€™t have lost,â€ Malikowski said. â€œIt would have been different but we would have won with full strength.â€