MEDINA — The Medina boys soccer team scored its first goal since late August on Tuesday night against Strongsville and that was enough.
Throughout that scoreless drought, the defense kept Medina without a loss. That continued as the Bees took down the Mustangs 1-0 at Medina Memorial Stadium.
The win kept the Bees (5-0-4, 1-0-1) in position to make a run at the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division crown. It took a combined defensive effort.
“It was 11 guys defending well and it was a collective defensive effort, as it has been in all of those games,” said Bees coach Mark Malikowski, whose team has allowed three goals this season. “We asked our outside midfielders tonight to sit in a little bit more and help us defend. Our forwards did a good job of keeping the ball on just one side and (goalkeeper) Dean (McNeil) made the routine stops.”
It was a performance similar to the previous three games, which were scoreless draws.
The Bees were able to really dig in against the Mustangs (3-5-1, 0-2) after scoring their first goal in four games. Just 6 minutes in, senior midfielder Austin Horvath played a through ball that sliced down the center and found Brandon Hough, who took a dribble and calmly placed it in the far corner.
It wasn’t the shot heard around the world, but it was close.
“It was huge,” Hough said with a grin. “I kissed the ground and I hugged every player on the bench. Yeah, it would’ve been nice to get two or three today, but we just needed one. It was a good feeling.
The score proved to be all Medina needed, as Strongsville had just five shot attempts. The two on goal were easily stopped by McNeil.
While the goose egg was something to be proud of for McNeil and starting defenders Ben Case, Connor Dease and Eric Vinborg, it truly was a complete effort with Jared Vidika piloting the midfielders to defend early.
“It was all thanks to Ben Case,” Vinborg said. “He organizes us really well and our outside mids getting back. It was a team effort.
“We marked up well, and Jared is a huge part of that in the midfield. The majority (of our success) has been our organization, just marking up and following your man.”
Strongsville had tries from Reid Labbato and Josh Weisbarth that McNeil stopped cleanly and was held quiet for most of the night.
“It means there aren’t any real gaping holes in the back,” Malikowski said. “That’s how you give up those chances. We defend well as a group and we move together, sit in and all those things we talk about at training. It takes something special to break you down. We’ve done a good job limiting those chances.
“It was a great effort defensively. We keep giving ourselves chances to win.”
Junior Cheikh Bassel, an exchange student from Senegal, made his debut for the Bees and registered a pair of shots, one of which was on goal.
l Sophomore Connor Brownsberger scored on a penalty kick as Medina’s junior varsity battled Strongsville to a 1-1 tie. The JV “B” squad fell to Strongsville 3-1, with Spencer Kaufman scoring for Medina.
Contact Dan Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.