June 25, 2016

Mostly sunny

Demons’ actions costly

BRUNSWICK — Westlake coach Mike Besu thought his team’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 — 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 wasn’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 Medina’s Jordan Clark. Demons goalkeeper Tim Hipskind lunged and got a hand on Clark’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.

“We tried different formations and had to move kids in different positions,” he said. “We had to move our sweeper to a midfielder and we had to go on without one of our best midfielders.”

Besu wound up having to move Vinny Stellato, who was nursing an ankle sprain, to Grossman’s spot.

“The guys were frustrated,” Besu said. “When you’re losing 2-0 and making changes and nothing is working, they got a little frustrated.”

Ohio State-bound midfielder David Schade collected the team’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.

“That broke our back,” Besu said. “We were already in trouble at that time and then all of a sudden (Schade) is gone, and we couldn’t come back from that.”

Schade’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.

“I could see the first yellow cards,” Besu said. “But at some point, you have to walk away and let the kids be frustrated.”

Medina coach Mark Malikowski said he was never worried about a potential letdown with his team being given an advantage.

“Not with this group,” he said. “In the past, maybe, but in our last four playoff games we haven’t had any lull like we had in the regular season.”

Despite Westlake’s midfield being ravaged, Malikowski didn’t think the cards made much of a difference in the outcome.

“We still wouldn’t have lost,” Malikowski said. “It would have been different but we would have won with full strength.”