OBERLIN — From a Buckeye point of view, it was a matter of justice delayed. If you’re an Oberlin fan, it was justice denied.
The Oberlin boys, leading Buckeye 1-0 in an important Patriot Athletic Conference soccer match, saw victory evaporate in the final 12 seconds Wednesday afternoon.
Oberlin was called for a takedown in the penalty box in the 80th and final minute which, by rule, gave Buckeye a penalty kick.
Bucks coach Joe Serio turned the job over to junior forward-midfielder Tyler Yurik, who had never missed a PK in 15 varsity attempts.
Suffice to say, Yurik also made this one — his second of the season — and it sent the Bucks back to Medina County with their second tie of the season. But it also dropped them 1½ games behind PAC leader Fairview.
Fairview is undefeated in five conference matches, including a one-goal victory over Buckeye (5-1-2, 3-1-1). Oberlin (6-1-1, 4-0-1) fell a half-game behind Fairview.
Buckeye’s Yurik was mobbed by his teammates after he found the back of the Oberlin net.
“I wait till the goalie goes and just kick it where he doesn’t go,” said Yurik, who gets ample PK work between games. “In practice, we usually have PK shootouts and stuff just to have fun.”
Serio, no surprise, was ecstatic with the tie, especially because his Bucks basically owned the midfield after the break and got off 18 second-half shots, eight of which were on target. They simply couldn’t finish.
“We switched up formations a little bit and it shored up the middle, absolutely,” said Serio. “That was part of our game plan. (Oberlin) has some good speed and some good aggressiveness in the middle themselves, and they really gave us a good game. We’re just happy to come out of here with a tie. Both teams played their hearts out. It was a real privilege to be a part of this one.”
Actually, Buckeye fans, along with Serio and his staff, thought the Bucks should have been awarded a penalty kick earlier in the second half. Some said Oberlin was guilty of a handball in the penalty box, which also by rule would have given Buckeye a PK.
Asked later about the play, Serio tapped his wristwatch, laughed and said, “How much time you got?”
The late penalty kick stole the luster from a goal in the 53rd minute by Oberlin’s Nick Hudnell, s senior midfielder. Junior mid Sam Weiss assisted on what in essence was a give-and-go play.
“I received the ball in the middle and I played it to Sam out wide,” said Hudnell. “I called for the ball in the middle as a counterattack, so we had numbers up front. I went one-on-one with the keeper after Sam’s (return pass) and just put it in the back of the net.”
After that, the Phoenix had just one more legitimate scoring chance, which came in the 64th minute. Weiss put the ball at the feet of freshman midfielder Sam Levine, but Levine’s left-footer went just wide of the right post.
The Bucks could have gone away with a lopsided win if not for the excellent play of Josh Kocsis, Oberlin’s senior goalkeeper, and the defenders in front of him, Morgan Bremke, Amani Crowley, Liam McMillin and Grant Cadenhead among them. They were under attack most of the match, almost without letup in the second half.
With the help of his defenders, Kocsis made two huge saves during a scramble right in front of the Phoenix goal in the 52nd minute. And he made a nice save of a rocket off the foot of the Bucks’ Sheamus Dalton in the 57th minute and a punch-out save on the second of Buckeye’s back-to-back corner kicks in the 74th minute.
Contact Bob Daniels at (440) 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.