TWINSBURG — The Aurora boys soccer team has been a giant killer throughout the postseason.

The Greenmen have defeated state-ranked powerhouses Revere, Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy and Warren Howland to get to the Elite Eight.

Amazingly enough, it seems like Aurora has gotten better each time it takes the field.

It will be tough to top the Greenmen's latest performance.

This one was a masterpiece.

As a result, Aurora is back in the Final Four for the first time since 2012.

The Greenmen won the Division II, Region 5 championship with a commanding 5-0 victory over Gates Mills Hawken.

With the win, Aurora is scheduled to play the Elida-Bay Village Bay game in the Division II state semifinals.

That contest is set to take place Wednesday at 7 p.m. The location of that game was not available at press time.

"It has been so fun," Greenmen head coach Jason Bibza said. "They show up every day for work and they're not taking anything for granted. They are taking everything as it comes to them."

Aurora (14-3-4) has been involved in plenty of drama throughout the postseason.

They squeezed past Woodridge 1-0 in sectional play, upset CVCA 4-3 in overtime, got past Revere 1-0 and then reached the Region 5 final with a 1-0 win over Warren Howland.

The Greenmen's latest gem, on the other hand, wound up being a mismatch.

They did whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted against an overmatched Hawks' squad — a squad that is no stranger to regional play over the years.

"We didn't want to get complacent," Aurora senior defender Avery McMaster said. "We knew they [the Hawks] blew through the competition. We came ready to go."

Thanks to beautiful ball movement, stellar defense and precision shooting, the Greenmen completely dominated the match.

Hawken (15-4-2), which has reached the state semifinals 12 times in its storied history, got deep in Aurora's end in the first couple of minutes of the match.

The Greenmen dictated the pace the rest of the way.

In fact, less than nine minutes into the game, Aurora had a 2-0 edge, thanks to the "French Connection."

Senior Cade Huffman, who returned to the pitch this fall after an eight-year layoff, got free on the right side before sending a pass to the middle of the field.

Huffman's perfect pass landed deep in Hawken's penalty box at the right foot of senior Daniel French, who one-timed a low shot into the right corner of the net.

That goal gave the Greenmen a 1-0 lead a little more than five minutes into the game.

Aurora struck again a little more than three minutes later.

Daniel's twin brother, senior Michael French, took advantage of a Hawks' mistake deep in their box.

Michael French stole the ball near the 6-yard line, and blasted a shot into the net to make it 2-0. Huffman was credited with the assist.

"Those goals change games," Bibza said. "Hawken is very dangerous on the counterattack. They're very good at delivering long balls. That's how they beat Marlington.

"When you score early, it takes the crowd out of it. It gave us confidence."

The Greenmen delivered the crushing blow late in the half.

With 3:14 left, Aurora made it 3-0 when junior Cooper Bizjak got the ball on the right side.

It looked like Bizjak ran out of room as he was near the end line close to the Hawks' goal.

Bizjak blasted a shot from point-blank range that went off the leg of Hawken junior goalie Nick Bislich before trickling into the net. Daniel French was credited with the assist.

By the way, this onslaught took place against a Hawken defense that allowed just one goal in the postseason prior to Saturday.

The Greenmen continued to toy with the Hawks in the second half.

Making a number of one-touch passes, sometimes with their backs turned and other times with the outside of their feet, Aurora added two more goals.

Less than six minutes into the second half, senior Cooper Devins took a long free kick from the right side.

His kick went into the right side of the Hawks' box. Daniel French happened to be at the right place at the right time and the senior headed the kick into the left corner of the net.

Junior Sean O'Malley added a goal on a breakaway from the right side a little more than seven minutes later to conclude the scoring. Junior Trevor Lazor was credited with the assist.

The Greenmen defense did the rest as senior goalkeeper Robby Albrecht had to make just 4 harmless saves.

"I owe everything to my defense," Albrecht said. "I've had no work to do the entire playoffs."

McMaster and several other senior players were in eighth grade when Aurora last reached the Final Four.

"We looked up to them and we were certainly inspired by them," McMaster said. "We have to try to stay humble."

Jones praised his coach for the team's success.

"I have to give full credit to coach Bibza," he said. "He got us to understand the game plan and he believed in us."


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