TALLMADGE — It was frustrating, aggravating and downright abhorrent.
Yes, it was that kind of evening for the Aurora boys soccer team.
The Greenmen, who have been unstoppable throughout the young season, had a night to forget when it took the field Aug. 26.
A lethargic Aurora squad came out blasting away in the first 15 minutes against a gritty Perry team before inexplicably losing all of its mojo the rest of the way.
As a result, the Greenmen, who cruised to a convincing 5-1 victory over host Tallmadge Tuesday at Tallmadge Blue Devils’ Stadium, suffered an excruciating loss to the Pirates.
Sure, it was Aurora’s only loss. Very few teams go undefeated and in the grand scheme of things, it probably won’t have the least bit of significance when it’s all said and done.
Nevertheless, that didn’t make the stunning 2-1 defeat any less repugnant.
"We had a nice rebound after the Perry game," Greenmen head coach Jason Bibza said. "It was definitely the way we wanted to bounce back."
It sure was.
Since its head-scratching loss to the Pirates, Aurora has outscored its last two opponents 9-2. This includes an easy 4-1 win over Mayfield Saturday at Veterans Stadium.
One of the major reasons for the Greenmen’s turnaround has been the play of junior Mason Bizjak, who followed up his one-goal, one-assist performance against the Wildcats with another strong effort against the Blue Devils.
Bizjak broke free against Tallmadge’s vaunted, trapping defense to score Aurora’s first goal nearly 23 minutes into the game.
The Greenmen did not relinquish its advantage the rest of the way.
"We picked it up against Mayfield," Bizjak said. "Our midfield did really well [Tuesday] with our passes. Our outside wings, Zach [Geier] and Jimmy [Miller], did really well. Our defense was really good.
"Against Mayfield, they really packed it in with Ben Gavie, Hugo [Krondorfer] and Oscar [Mejia-Isaias]. Our wings outside, Sam Schreck, Pedro [Pastore Montenegro], Hayden [Hall], they did really well too."
Aurora’s goal total Tuesday can certainly be appreciated due to the Blue Devils’ frustrating tactics. Tallmadge’s defense was bound and determined to keep the ball out of its nets at all costs. Therefore, the Greenmen often found several defenders hovering around the goal to block any shot attempts inside the Blue Devils’ penalty box.
Such a strategy gave Bibza chills. That’s because if gave him some nightmarish flashbacks of a certain monstrosity that took place eight days earlier.
"This was a game, right off the bat, they [the Blue Devils] just had a different strategy of playing low pressure and trying to counter," Bibza said. "They were dangerous on the break when they could get out and they pack it in and really make it difficult to score.
"Against some teams, that can really work. You get frustrated and you can’t score and you can’t score and they break out and score like Perry did to us."
Aurora had trouble cracking Tallmadge’s secretive code despite numerous opportunities.
No worries, though. Bibza knew it was just a matter of time before his talented team would bust loose.
"In the first half, Mason had a lot of chances," Bibza said. "We had a lot of good chances. They were better chances than they were against Perry. They were more direct chances."
The younger Bizjak has been coming into his own after watching his older brother become a superstar at West Pioneer Trail last fall.
The older Bizjak, Cooper, scored a team-high 24 goals for the Greenmen in 2018. Cooper is now a member of the John Carroll University men’s soccer team in University Heights.
"Cooper is a great player," Bizjak said. "I’ve learned so much from him by just watching him."
The younger Bizjak would give his right arm to play one more year with his flesh and blood. At the same time, though, he seems to be adapting quite nicely to his new role as leading man.
His teammates seem to enjoy their newfound starring roles, as well. And contrary to the Perry game, there is nothing loathsome about the Greenmen’s strong start this fall.
It has been quite delightful, as a matter of fact.
"I feel we’re really coming as a team," Bizjak said. "One step at a time."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.