MEDINA — The Brunswick and Medina boys soccer teams played Saturday night with various players out due to injury.
Both squads also have backlines that have allowed just a handful of goals this season.
Naturally, the Blue Devils and Bees failed to find the back of the net despite quality chances in a 0-0 draw in front of a packed crowd at Medina Memorial Stadium.
“It had a weird feel to it,” Medina coach Mark Malikowski said. “I told the kids that it seemed very ho-hum at times. That’s not questioning their effort by any means, but it had a weird feel all night.
“Both teams had chances. Both keepers made some great saves to keep zeros on the board, but it shouldn’t have been a 0-0 game from our perspective because we had some good chances.”
Under a steady mist of rain, the Bees (4-0-3) and Blue Devils (4-0-2) left this Northeast Ohio Conference cross-divisional tilt feeling they missed an opportunity for county and district bragging rights.
Medina was without the services of defenders Jared Vidika and Noah Hastings and played its second game without forward Aaron Liezert, who separated his shoulder in last weekend’s win over Copley.
On the other side, Brunswick was missing midfielder Michael Zorij and forward Guy Foust — both are expected to provide some balance to the team’s attack.
With both teams coming in with similar resumes, the head-to-head battle was expected, but the results were not.
“For me, it’s disappointing, because I really feel like we’re better than them,” first-year Blue Devils coach Ben Dotson said.
The stagnant offenses can be blamed on two standout goalkeepers.
Medina senior Dean McNeil stopped seven shots en route to his fifth shutout of the season and fourth in the last five games, while Brunswick freshman Gavin Leindecker recorded his fourth clean sheet with a four-save night.
The advantage early on went to the Bees, as Austin Horvath fired the first shot attempt of the game that hit the post. As Tommy Lear rebounded it, his try was knocked away by Alex Becka, who along with fellow defender Dylan Castro thwarted a handful of counterattacks. Minutes later, Brandon Hough had his chip-shot snagged by Leindecker.
In all, seven of Medina’s 10 shot tries were in the first half, but for the second straight game it ended with a goose egg.
“It’s just putting the ball in the back of the net. That’s all it is,” said Malikowski, whose team played Green to a scoreless draw Thursday. “It’s just guys finishing. Sometimes you’re going to go through stretches like that, but two games in a row here is kind of frustrating.”
The Blue Devils picked up steam in the second half, as just 9 minutes in it had its best try of the night. An indirect kick from Jesse Marianut was snagged out of the air by McNeil’s fingertips.
Brunswick finished with seven of its 13 shot attempts on goal, including two each from Marianut, Justin Paalman and Axel Larsson.
“Our decision-making in the final third was not where it needed to be tonight,” Dotson said. “We were either in too much of a rush to be over aggressive or we wanted to play the perfect ball and we waited too long.”
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