BRUNSWICK â€” Medinaâ€™s boys soccer team wanted to make quick work of Westlake in the Findlay Division I Regional semifinals.
But the Bees didnâ€™t think it would only take 88 seconds.
The first minute and half told the story Tuesday as Medina downed Westlake 2-0 in a game played at Judy Kirsch Field.
With the clock reading 38:32 of the first half, all of the momentum swung to the Bees (16-3-1).
Medina senior Nate Vidika served the ball on a corner kick to defender Jordan Clark, who headed it toward the net on what looked liked a sure score.
The side judge saw something different, however, which changed the way the Demons (12-5-3) had to play the rest of the game.
Junior defender Lee Grossman committed a handball in the box, why by rule, results in a red card and an automatic ejection.
â€œOff the corner kick I headed it down, he just bent down and picked it up,â€ Clark said. â€œYou could tell he regretted it.â€
And so did Westlake, which had to play a man down for the final 78 minutes on the infraction that gave the Bees a penalty kick.
Vidika took the kick and fired it past goalkeeper Tim Hipskind to give Medina the early lead.
â€œFor them, it definitely took the wind out of their sails,â€ Bees coach Mark Malikowski said.
â€œWe talk often about getting an early goal for our defense, but to do so in 90 seconds and see a guy get tossed … you have to give Westlake credit for not folding up shop.â€
The critical handball helped propel Medina into its first regional final since 1999, but it was not an easy trip as Westlake never stopped coming at it.
â€œWe still had to play with the same intensity â€¦ itâ€™s the postseason,â€ Clark said. â€œThat (play) took a lot out of them, but they regained it.â€
Medina struck late in the first half with an insurance goal they needed from sophomore Clay Febus. He took a cross from Lupica for his first career goal.
â€œWe feel if we can get two in, weâ€™re tough to beat,â€ Malikowski said. â€œIt really makes our bench think that we have to really screw up to not get out.â€
With the man advantage, the Bees were able to control the midfield and their standout defense was able to hold the Demons to just one shot on goal, a ball late in the second half that was calmly gathered by goalie Kevin Mahin.
Medinaâ€™s back four helped record its 10th shutout of the season. The Bees have only allowed 10 goals in 20 games.
They also are riding a postseason streak that has included wins over rivals Strongsville and Wadsworth â€” the latter being the only team to beat them.
â€œItâ€™s been crazy,â€ Lupica said. â€œBut its also exciting â€¦ we all think we can do it.â€
Malikowski added: â€œWeâ€™re confident right now and we should be, weâ€™ve played well and won a lot of big games. I like the feel of things right now.â€
The fifth-year coachâ€™s squad will now do battle with Sylvania Northview, which outlasted Findlay in a shootout for the right to play Saturday in the Final Four.
And the Bees coach feels that it couldnâ€™t happen to a better group of kids.
â€œItâ€™s such a quality group of kids,â€ Malikowski said. â€œItâ€™s been a great season this year, since the start of the postseason, I feel they deserve it.â€