CUYAHOGA FALLS — The fungal infection known as athlete’s foot is something all soccer players have to look out for.
However, can a fungal infection impacting the field ever disrupt a soccer game? According to Cuyahoga Falls coach Eric Ortopan and Twinsburg’s Mike Lally, that’s exactly what happened Tuesday night.
According to Falls athletic director Kenny Johnson, Falls’ Laybourne Field has been infected with summer patch, a fungal disease which has left the field uneven and riddled with rough patches. Both teams had to change their tactics in part due to the poor turf, Wednesday as Twinsburg pulled out a 1-0 win.
Twinsburg moved to 3-2, 2-0 in the Suburban League National Conference. Falls dropped to 2-2-1, 0-2 in the National Conference.
Both coaches were annoyed with the pitch after the game.
"That was a very difficult game," Lally said. "That’s not the kind of field either team deserved to play on. In our first 25 minutes, we were able to control things. After that, because of the way they ball was moving, we had to try to just kick it up from the back and avoid the midfield.
"It may have been our worst game of the season," he added. "Anytime you can play your worst and get a win in the league, you will take it."
Ortopan said the field put the Black Tigers at a disadvantage to every other team in the National Conference, which play on turf fields.
"We’re a team that likes to move the ball," Ortopan said. "It’s hard to move the ball when you hit a pothole in the field.
"It was a mess out there," he added. "It wasn’t the best game of possession for either team."
One moment of magic in the sixth minute proved to be the difference in the game.
Against a pressing Cuyahoga Falls defense, Twinsburg midfielder Jason Karhoff passed a perfectly timed through ball, allowing forward Connor Gantous to get behind the defense.
Gantous had about a 30-yard breakaway against Falls goalkeeper Brady Zeiszler. Gantous shot low to the right of goal to make it 1-0.
After the goal, however, Zeisler and the Black Tigers’ defense had a solid night. Although Twinsburg’s pressure was constant, Falls gave up only four shots on goal.
Zeiszler had three saves as both teams had five corner kicks.
"Usually, we like to move the ball around, but their pressure defense came up and did a good job," Lally said. "Most of the time, we had to play the direct ball up the wings and they did a good job reading it."
"Tonight was a matter of take advantage of your opportunities and limiting theres," Ortopan said. "We had so many opportunities in the first half, but we just couldn’t put any of them away."
The game got more direct — and more physical — as it went on, but Falls would only manage one shot on goal, despite sustained pressure for periods in the second half.
Ortopan, whose team was coming off a 2-1 win at Akron Firestone Saturday, was very happy with his defense during the game.
"Mike was over there yelling ‘Can somebody please break the line?’ I wanted to say ‘No, they can’t, coach,’" Ortopan said. "It’s just been a wall back there. That’s kind of been our thing all year."
"We did not punish them for giving up fouls tonight," Lally said. "There were a lot of set pieces that we did not take advantage of. We saw them play Firestone, so we knew they were capable of better soccer than this."