TWINSBURG — The 2018 season has been a banner one for both Twinsburg and Nordonia girls soccer.
Heading to the two team’s contest at Tiger Stadium Wednesday, Twinsburg had already secured the Suburban League National Conference, been given the No. 1 seed in the Division I Solon district tournament and been ranked No. 8 in Division I in the Monday’s OSSCA state poll.
While Nordonia wasn’t flying quite that high, the Knights came into Wednesday looking to secure its first 10-win season in years and upset their backyard rivals.
Nordonia took the lead early Wednesday before the Tigers rallied and pulled away late with a 4-1 win.
Twinsburg improved to 15-0 and finished 7-0 in the National Conference, while Nordonia dropped to 9-3-3 and finished 3-3-1 in the National Conference.
It was Senior Night for Twinsburg and coach John Garber paid tribute to the Tigers’ 13-member senior class.
"It’s a fantastic night for the seniors. We have a phenomenal senior class," Garber said. "We’ve asked them to change up a lot of things and they’ve always worked hard. To get a win on their final regular season home game is big."
Nordonia coach Les Gicei noted the game was much closer that the score indicated, but noted the Tigers were the best team his team played this season.
"They’ve got so much speed and skill all over the field," Gicei said. "I thought we had a great start to the game. They did a better job shutting down our counterattack. We’d like to be where they are."
Nordonia actually controlled the opening 20 minutes of the game, as forward Sam Wiehe led the charge up top. The Knights had five shots on goal, including hitting the post, in the first 20 minutes.
In the 17th minute, Nordonia’s pressure paid off, as Twinsburg’s defense was called for pushing Wiehe from behind in the penalty box.
Wiehe took the penalty kick herself, putting her shot into the low left corner of the net to make it 1-0.
After that penalty kick, however, Twinsburg’s offense came in waves vs. the Knights.
In the 23rd minute, the Tigers got the equalizer off a throw in from left side. Tara Garing’s throw bounced twice in the box and found forward McKenna Donahue, who blasted it home at close range.
After Twinsburg’s goal, the Tigers had a problem applying the finishing touch. Nordonia goaltender Lindsey Beattie finished with six saves on the night, while midfielder Riley Saliga cleared a ball off the line to deny the Tigers in the first half.
Gicei said a 1-1 tie at halftime was just what the Knights wanted, as they were prepared to use the same absorb-and-counter strategy it used vs. Hudson earlier this season.
The problem was Twinsburg’s possession game killed Nordonia’s counterattack, as the Knights didn’t have a shot on goal after halftime.
"In the second half, the spacing on our possession was much better," Garber said. "Our adjustment was to really deliberately play the ball wide."
Twinsburg’s adjustment created numerous scoring chances, but the Tigers hit the frame of teh goal twice and saw several other buzz just wide of the goal.
With the frustration mounting, the Tigers got their second goal on literally a lucky bounce.
In the 65th minute, Twinsburg earned a free kick 50 yards out from goal and sweeper Amy Hawersaat took the kick. Hawersaat hit at bomb, which bounced inside the six-yard box and over the goaltender to make it 2-1.
Garber said it was Hawersaat’s second goal of the season after she scored in similar fashion earlier in the season vs. Austintown-Fitch.
Fortunate or not, Twinsburg kept coming after the second goal and put the game out of reach the in 72nd minute. Donahue took a corner kick from the left side and served a ball to the back post, which midfielder Alyssa Kleinman chested into the goal to make it 3-1.
Donahue put the exclamation point on the win with six seconds left on the clock, as the launched a shot into the upper right corner of the net to make it 4-1.
Twinsburg will look to make it a perfect 16-0 regular season Saturday when it travels to Cleveland Heights at 5 p.m. Nordonia will close its regular season at home Saturday at 7 p.m. vs Norton.
Both teams received first-round byes in the Solon districts. Twinsburg will host the the winner of the Kent Roosevelt-Cuyahoga Falls game next Thursday at Tiger Stadium at 7 p.m.
Meanwhile, fifth-seeded Nordonia will travel to face fourth-seeded Solon next Thursday at 7 p.m.