June 27, 2016

Partly sunny

Medina soccer players enjoy magical tourney ride

MACEDONIA — Michael Clendenin wasn’t happy how it all ended so quickly, but the Medina senior is proud of what it took to get there.

The news of the night was the Bees saw their soccer season come to an end with a 3-0 Division I regional semifinal loss to Westlake, but there’s so much more to the story.

Michael Clendenin

Medina’s last trip to the regional bracket was in 2007. It’s been a steady climb back, and Clendenin and this group of seniors have been integral. The Bees finished the year with a 12-5-2 record and won’t hang their heads.

“We put in a hell of an effort tonight,” Clendenin said. “I mean, I couldn’t ask for more out of these guys for the season. Coming into the season it didn’t look good. I think a lot of guys didn’t have hope for a good season.”

Through hard work and dedication, the Bees made believers out of naysayers who predicted a lackluster season.

“We proved everyone wrong,” Clendenin said. “We worked so hard this season. We practiced our (butts) off every day. We did so much. We did everything we could. To fall apart like this at the end, it sucks. But to make it this far, it’s a good accomplishment.”

The Bees were victims of a pair of early goals that coach Mark Malikowski called “flukes” and played from behind for the majority of the match.

Dealing with a two-goal deficit against a team as good as Westlake, combined with the cold and slippery conditions at Nordonia High School’s Boliantz Stadium, was too much to overcome.

“We got on a great run in the postseason, and the kids believed that we could get to this point and beyond, so it was a special run the past couple weeks with a good group of kids,” Malikowski said.

Clendenin said the postseason burst was a magical ride.

“Beating Copley was probably one of the greatest feelings ever, especially after how we went out last season,” he said, referring to Medina’s overtime victory last week in the district semifinals, which was revenge for Copley’s shootout win in the 2011 tourney. “It was so good to finally beat them, especially after them beating us early in the season.

“And then going into Highland and winning the district finals was an awesome feeling, having our fans storm the field. It was awesome to have that much support throughout all of it.”

The only thing an athlete can ask of himself and his teammates is to give maximum effort until the final whistle. Clendenin said the Bees have no regrets in that area.

“Everyone left it all out there,” he said. “We did it all season and it didn’t stop at the end.”

Contact Eric Barnes at sports@medina-gazette.com.