November 25, 2014

Medina
Intermittent clouds
36°F

Bad bounces doom Bees in regional soccer action

MACEDONIA — Sometimes breaks don’t go your way, and sometimes they don’t matter anyway.

That was the case for Medina’s boys soccer team Wednesday night, as it dropped its Division I regional semifinal to Westlake 3-0 at Boliantz Stadium.

Medina goalie Dean McNeil gives up a goal to Westlake’s Nick Wertman, left. Medina’s Noah Hastings looks on in the first half. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY RON SCHWANE)

Despite trailing by two after the first half, the Bees (12-5-2) felt they had done everything they could to be in the game had the ball not taken few bad bounces.

“The message in the locker room was that it wasn’t a 2-0 game,” Medina coach Mark Malikowski said. “We gave up two goals that we normally don’t give up, and we thought we did enough in the first half to give ourselves a chance.

“We gave up one crummy one, and then we’re on our heels with the second one, and we don’t finish a couple that we had.”

The Bees had just two shots on goal in the opening half — one a breakaway when midfielder Austin Horvath flicked the ball to forward Aaron Liezert, whose shot sailed wide left to keep the game scoreless.

From there, the Demons (14-4-2) took control, netting a pair of goals in a little more than 2 minutes to all but secure their regional final berth against Sylvania Southview on Saturday. Southview defeated Whitehouse Anthony Wayne 2-1 in the other semifinal.

Senior Chris Korek shot a bullet at Medina goalkeeper Dean McNeil (2 saves), and the junior failed to hang onto the ball and it went in between his legs and into the net.

“That’s a fluke,” Malikowski said. “Dean has played well for us all year and he stops that shot 999 times out of 1,000, so it’s a fluke. Maybe it was weather-related or turf-related, but that’s a shot we would put him there for 1,000 times.”

Westlake’s Nick Wertman followed with the first of his two goals. The forward played a free kick from Chris Korek and, with his back to the goal, was able to score on a header.

“Defensively we played pretty well, and the goals we gave up, I don’t know how to describe it,” senior defender Michael Clendenin said. “Like the one that slipped through Dean. That was just unfortunate. They were just tough goals, and there was nothing we could’ve done about them.”

Wertman netted an insurance goal with 33:28 left in regulation on a direct kick from the top right corner of the box that deflected off the shoulder of a wall defender and past McNeil.

“They were an awesome team,” Clendenin said. “Their buildup was great, and they had great movement on the outsides. They did well to break us down in situations and places where they did score goals.”

In all, the Demons fired 11 shots — seven on goal — while the Bees countered with 13 total attempts and seven on frame.

But outside of the breakaway shot by Liezert, Medina’s other tries were collected easily by Westlake keeper Jamie Lackner, as he extended his postseason shutout streak to four games.

“I thought we did create some chances, but they get a lot of guys behind the ball, which makes them tough to break down in that final 30 yards,” Malikowski said. “That’s where we struggled a little bit.

“That said, we had some chances and had a lot of room to play in front of their backs, but we couldn’t make that final pass to give us that quality chance. It’s not a 3-0 game certainly, but (Westlake) played really well and they deserve credit.”

Contact Dan Brown at sports@medina-gazette.com.