SANDUSKY — The dream postseason run for Medina’s boys soccer team came to a nightmarish end Saturday afternoon.
Facing Anthony Wayne for the second time this season — this time with a Division I regional championship on the line — the Bees were poised to advance to the program’s first Final Four.
A goal just 12 seconds into the game, however, did in Medina as it fell 1-0 at Cedar Point Stadium in Sandusky.
Despite controlling the run of play for the majority of the game, it was a deficit the Bees (11-2-8) couldn’t overcome.
“It’s a crummy way to go,” Medina coach Mark Malikowski said. “That’s a very good team over there, but (we) deserved to not go out like that, that’s for sure.
“To give up a goal in 12 seconds, that one will haunt us for awhile, I would imagine.”
Just as fans were settling into the seats, Anthony Wayne (17-0-4) came out as if it were shot out of a cannon.
With a wet surface thanks to a nice mist of morning rain, the Generals’ Ben Conkin was able to burst into the center of the Bees backline and dish to a streaking Andrew Yokum who, after a quick switch, fired it between the legs of goalkeeper Dean McNeil.
“I don’t really know what happened. Those 12 seconds happened really fast,” McNeil said. “I saw the ball coming in and I backed up to get in position, and then when I looked up, someone misplayed the ball. Looking back, I was in good position, but he just put it right in between my legs.”
Malikowski said the conditions played a role, but the opening run was definitely shell-shocking, to say the least.
“We talked about it before the game that the new balls on the wet surface were really skipping,” he said. “That’s a crummy way to give one up. I don’t think we weren’t ready, I don’t think we weren’t focused, but certainly it shocked us a bit.”
For an Anthony Wayne defense that has allowed just eight goals all season, it was just enough to take the victory and advance to Wednesday’s state semifinal against Mentor, which defeated Massillon Jackson 1-0.
As silly as it sounds, the rest of the game was controlled by Medina, especially in the second half. The Bees had six second-half shot attempts — three on goal, including a shot many fans thought was in with 20 minutes remaining.
Senior midfielder Jared Vidika collected a ball at the near-corner of the box and flicked it over the head of goalkeeper Austin Kaminski (2 saves). The bouncing ball came as close as it possibly gets to the endline — so close that fellow midfielder Austin Horvath found himself in the back in the net — but both officials agreed that the ball was not in.
“I thought it was in, but I don’t know. It’s tough to call,” Vidika said. “The center ref can’t make that call. It’s the AR’s decision, and I didn’t feel he was in right position, but that’s life.
“It’s fate. We were just not meant to win it. It’s frustrating, but there’s nothing you can really do about it. We left it all out of the field and couldn’t have worked any harder.”
Minutes after that exchange, defender Connor Dease blasted a free kick from 50 yards away that Kaminski dropped in front of him that Medina’s Aaron Leizert flicked just off frame.
The handful of near-misses made the result sting even more.
“It makes it worse,” said McNeil, who played the final minute of the game in the offensive end. “Knowing that we were the better team for that long, we just couldn’t put one in the back of the net.”
Outside of the opening goal, the Generals had just one other shot on goal that Horvath was able to clear.
“It was a pretty even game after that,” Malikowski said. “For 79-plus (minutes), it was pretty even, and you could say that we had the better chances after that. There were a couple in the six bouncing around that we couldn’t put in, but an even game after that.”
Contact Dan Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.