CUYAHOGA FALLS: A short-handed Copley boys soccer team lost on the stat sheet, but won the match 2-1, and spoiled Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy’s Senior Night.
Sophomore Chris Brennan’s free-kick goal midway through the second half, along with a strong defensive effort, lifted the Indians to the victory Saturday night at the newly carpeted Royals Stadium.
“I think the second half was more indicative of how we play than the first half,” sixth-year Copley coach Dave Antal said. “We got the ball wide and we played quicker, and having Chris Brennan on free kicks helps, too.”
With the score tied 1-1, Brennan took the direct kick from just outside the box on the left side. Copley’s leading scorer had few opportunities, but he drilled the kick just under the crossbar and out of the reach of CVCA freshman goalkeeper Kyle Winquist.
“This was a time when I needed to step up and win the game for our team,” said Brennan, now with nine goals on the season. “You have to envision it before you hit it.”
The Royals dominated the first 20 minutes, but Copley scored first when junior Gary Maselli punched the ball home after a corner kick and a brief scramble.
CVCA (4-2-0) equalized less than three minutes later, at 17:49, when senior Tim Andrassy’s perfectly placed corner kick resulted in junior Joey Horth’s header goal.
Andrassy had a long, free-kick opportunity with 28 minutes left in the match. Copley goalkeeper Ameer Mubarak went high for the save, got tangled up with a CVCA forward, and fell to the ground. He came up with excess emotion and was tagged with a yellow card.
“I kind of lost my mind for a second,” said Mubarak, who finished with eight saves. “I got on the bench and cooled down.”
The Indians (5-3-1) then received nine solid minutes from senior reserve keeper Max Bentlage before Mubarak returned.
“It was an intense game,” fifth-year CVCA coach Jon Taylor said. “Guys were competing hard. It was close all the way until the end.”
Antal had high praise for his defensive unit, including senior captain Michael Dichlian, junior Holden Torrens and sophomore Jared Davis.
Dichlian, a four-year starter, began the season still recovering from a hernia procedure in June, but played big late in the match.
“In the first half, I was a little slow because we didn’t figure out how they were playing,” he said. “But once we scored the second goal, we started picking it up.”
The Indians were without standout junior midfielder Skye Harter because of illness.
“Without Skye [six goals, four assists], different guys had to step up,” Brennan said.
CVCA had more shots on goal and 10 corner kicks compared to one for the Indians.
“We created enough opportunities tonight to score more than one goal,” Taylor said. “Copley fought really hard. They did enough to win the game. I think we did, too, but we didn’t end up with the stats that mattered.”