MEDINA — It was a perfect storm for Medina’s girls soccer team Wednesday night. Just not in the way it expected.
Facing a highly motivated Strongsville team that was fresh off a bitter loss to Wadsworth, the Bees gave up an early goal and had a red card issued late in the opening half, forcing them to play a man down the rest of the way.
All those issues amounted to the No. 6 Mustangs running away with a 3-0 victory over No. 9 Medina in a Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division contest at Medina Memorial Stadium.
“Total nightmare scenario,” Bees coach Doug Coreno said. “You give up an early goal, take a red card and have to play a man down the rest of the way. I mean, you couldn’t have scripted a worse night for us in terms of how the game was going to go.”
A pair of early scores from Rachel Schirripa gave way to a key win that assures Strongsville (8-4-1, 4-0) a piece of the division crown with one game remaining.
It came on the heels of a 3-2 loss to unranked Wadsworth on its home field less than 48 hours earlier.
“Having this game right away and having the atmosphere, being for a chance at the top of the conference, was that little motivation they needed,” Mustangs coach Jon Felton said. “It was a nice couple of minutes there at the start. We got a little lucky and I think that changed the tempo.”
Slightly more than a minute into the contest, Schirripa scored her first goal. Kelly Novak dribbled the ball to the corner flag and crossed it into the center of the box, where the junior taped it in.
Schirripa scored again with 4:24 left before halftime, taking a deflected ball off a Nicolette Griesinger throw-in to make it 2-0.
In the first half, Strongsville was 2-for-3 on converted shots on goal and had five others go wide.
“We really needed this game to pick up our energy,” Schirripa said. “We were trying to make sure we got everything on goal and that we had many chances.”
That’s when things got interesting. The Mustangs had a breakaway 2 minutes later that Medina sophomore defender Brianne Caccavale broke up with a goal-saving tackle.
The play, however, was a clear-path foul. It occurred in a one-on-one situation and resulted in a red card.
“He’s the ref. His call, his decision and we have to live with it,” Coreno said. “The rule from the state is that if it’s a breakaway with the goalkeeper and it’s a goal-scoring situation, that it is a red card. I don’t think that was the case tonight, but he’s a good referee and I trust him, so we have to live with the call.”
The card forced Medina (8-2-3, 4-1) to play with 10 players for the remaining 52 minutes.
Despite giving up a goal in the opening minutes of the second to Andrea Larson on a scramble in the box, the Bees played well for having one less player and lost the shooting battle just 6-5.
The difference, however, was all of those attempts came from outside the penalty area, with Amy Bobonik, Bri Shingary and Syndey Leckie uncorking shots from beyond the 18.
“We played down a man for over 50 minutes, and I think (if) you walked up to the field and just watched for 10, 20 minutes, I don’t think you would’ve known we played a man down,” Coreno said. “The kids worked so hard. They fought.
“You know, it’s no fun to lose. It really hurts to lose, especially to your rival in a conference game, but, man, I’m walking away with pride in the effort, the heart and the fight that the kids put forth in the second half.”
The junior varsities battled to a 0-0 draw. Goalkeepers Jessica Radice and Sophie Weidner combined to record the clean sheet for the Bees.
Contact Dan Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.