This wasn’t the position the Medina boys soccer team wanted to be in heading into Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division play.
Sure, the Bees haven’t lost through seven games and were ranked seventh in the Division I state coaches poll released Monday.
But the team is without three starters, two due to injury, heading into the most important portion of the schedule, which starts Wednesday against Mentor, another team that doesn’t have a loss.
Coach Mark Malikowski’s team, which returned seven starters from a squad that advance to regionals last fall, has been without the services of All-Gazette defensive midfielder Jared Vidika (ankle) and defender Noah Hastings (team rules violation) for all seven games. All-Gazette forward joined Aaron Leizert joined that list last weekend after separating his shoulder.
And after failing to find the back of the net in its last two games, the impact is setting in on Medina.
“We’ve arguably got three of our top five or six guys out right now, so a lot of credit is due to these guys for being seven games in and not having lost,” Malikowski said. “We have to make adjustments, but it’s a classic case of someone’s got to step up.
“We can’t sit over here and whine about it. Someone has to step up and put the ball in the back of the net for us and we haven’t done that in two games.”
Hastings is expected to return next week against Strongsville, while Vidika has attempted to practice but is still experiencing discomfort. According to Malikowski, his status is up in the air. Leizert is expected to have his two-week check-up next week, where a timetable will be set on his return.
Not only did Highland’s girls team pick up a big non-league win over Canton GlenOak on Saturday, it found a way to do something for others as well. The team partnered with the Golden Eagles for the inaugural Kickin’ It for a Cure event to benefit the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. In all, the players and families pulled together more than $200 thanks to donations from bakery and fruit, along with T-shirt sales at the game. The shirts were donated by Adidas.
Upon further review
Buckeye’s boys coaching staff has changed credit for the second goal in a 4-2 loss to Firelands. It was originally believed Ryan Grauel netted the goal, but it was actually junior defender Mitchel Boehmke who got his second of the year.
Holding it down
With the loss of Gazette MVP Marisa Scullin, Medina knew it had big shoes to fill on its backline. The Bees have found that replacement in sophomore Bri Caccavale, who has been as steady as they come and currently leads the team in minutes played. As a unit, the defense has allowed just four goals this season.
• Through six games, Brunswick’s boys haven’t allowed a goal. A lot of that has to do with senior Dylan Castro. The first-team All-NOC selection has anchored the backline in a variety ways to help the Blue Devils to a hot start.
“Castro has taken defensive leadership to a new level,” coach Ben Dotson said. “Castro’s brute strength and blinding pace have steadied the backline into a true strength on the team.”
After a fast start, Cloverleaf’s girls have had two players sidelined due to injury. Junior midfielder Nicole Cook will be out four weeks with a knee injury, according to coach Guillermo Porras, and defender Shannon Mohney is out for three weeks with appendicitis.
• Brunswick midfielder Michael Zorij has been sidelined for more than eight weeks with a broken collarbone, but Dotson thinks the senior could be back for a game at Stow on Sept. 24. The status of sophomore forward Guy Foust, however, is still up in the air as he continues to battle a hip injury.
What to watch
When it comes to the girls NOC Valley Division, every game is big. Medina will face its first test Wednesday when it hosts an athletic Solon squad that is not only off to a 5-1 start — its lone loss came against Walsh Jesuit — but had recorded five straight shutout victories heading into Monday’s action.
• Both Brunswick teams have high hopes of competing for the NOC River championship and will open play this week with the boys traveling to Mayfield tonight and the girls playing host to Shaker Heights on Wednesday. The boys haven’t won a league crown since 2007, while the girls last clinched a banner in 2008.
• On Monday, Medina will face off with intracounty rival Wadsworth in girls action. The Bees won last season’s matchup 4-0, but this year’s edition will be played on the new FieldTurf at Art Wright Memorial Stadium.
A.J. Timken’s four-goal outburst Saturday was his second of the season for Cloverleaf. The senior striker has 12 goals through seven games, but the Colts are still searching for their first win.
• Medina junior defender Leanne Prandi netted her first career goal in a 2-1 win over Amherst.
• Cloverleaf’s Andrew Podolak connected on his first score in a loss to Nordonia. The senior also has two assists.
Contact Dan Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.