MEDINA – Randy Brown couldn’t wait to rip his jersey off after his goal lifted Medina’s boys soccer team over North Royalton in a 1-0 Brunswick Division I Sectional final.
It wasn’t that the center midfielder stunk to the high heavens — though it probably did as the center midfielder never came off the field in an affair that took 104 minutes and 47 seconds to complete.
Brown finally put an end to things on a score that wasn’t a thing of beauty, but it did lift the third-seeded Bees (10-6) over the Bears (8-7-3) on Thursday and set up a rematch against top-seed Brecksville next week.
The game-winner came when Brown took a ball played off teammate Andy Stine’s knee, dribbled once and put the ball over the outstretched hands of Dan Nagy.
Nagy was able to get a finger on the ball, but it found the back of the net. Off came Brown’s shirt in celebration and on went the Bees to a district semifinal.
“I’m always good for doing something crazy after I score,” Brown said. “After the goal, I was thinking about my team, about the season and about continuing on.”
Medina survived a chippy contest by showing the resolve needed in a game of this magnitude.
Things got a little scary when Bears keeper Kevin Fikar took an apparent cleat to the face and had to be taken to the hospital with 6:07 remaining in the second half.
Play got a little rough and tumble, but the Bees maintained their composure in a game that appeared to be headed for penalty kicks.
That is until Brown collected his pass from Stine, showed the wherewithal needed and found success.
“Both teams played well,” Medina coach Mark Malikowski said. “I thought we looked tired halfway through the second half, but I was impressed with their effort.
“They played well another 45 minutes after they looked tired. It was a very good team effort.”
That effort wasn’t lost on the defensive front as Dan Bavaro, Ryan Stenquist and JaredVidika kept the Bears off the board.
Medina outshot North Royalton 13-3 and none of the Bears’ chances really ever threatened keeper Zach Haynes.
“I thought they played well,” Malikowski said. “They have all year. We never gave up many chances and when we did, they weren’t quality chances.”
The win sets up a regular season rematch with Brecksville (16-0-1), which beat Medina 2-0 earlier in the season.
While the score said it was a two-goal defeat, Medina believes it gave up two cheap ones and will return to Brecksville on Monday looking for redemption.
That, and a little confidence after a hard-fought sectional win, could push Medina to victory according to Malikowski.
“Brecksville is a very good team,” he said. “Obviously, they haven’t lost a game all year. But we thought we had stretches where we outplayed them. We gave up two bad goals. We’re looking for a better effort.”
Contact Brad Bournival at firstname.lastname@example.org.