TALLMADGE — The deepest levels of belief often lead to the highest levels of performance.
What you believe can empower you. What you don’t believe, on the other hand, can limit you. It drives what you do and what you achieve.
Jason Bibza has examined that basic little word quite frequently since the 2019 season began.
On Tuesday, his oft-repeated message to appreciate their internal thoughts seemed to strike a chord with his players. Now the critical task at hand is for them to fully convert to the Aurora head boys soccer coach’s sacred scripture.
In these lessons, though, this particular tree of life won’t be barricaded by a fiery, revolving sword.
"I like the spirit," Bibza said. "They just kept going. They were looser too. They weren’t so … ‘Oh my goodness, I can’t score. What’s wrong with me?’"
There was nothing wrong with the Greenmen in their 2019 Suburban League American Conference debut.
Aurora picked apart Tallmadge’s supposedly impenetrable version of the Israeli West Bank barrier. As a result, the Greenmen coasted to a convincing 5-1 win at Tallmadge Blue Devils Stadium.
It took Aurora nearly 23 minutes to overthrow Tallmadge’s wall of defenders, who protected their goal as if it was Fort Knox.
It finally happened, thanks to a critical boo-boo by the Blue Devils’ armed guards.
Using a high-risk, high-reward approach of madly sprinting forward if a white and green jersey went astray, Tallmadge’s defense left itself helpless when the Greenmen suppressed its bold trapping tactics.
As a result, Mason Bizjak’s daring escape proved successful, thanks to a well-timed and well-placed through ball by Bryson Pozniak.
Once Bizjak got the ball, only Jamysen Montgomery stood in front of him. The Blue Devils’ goalkeeper made 10 courageous saves on the evening. However, Montgomery was basically the equivalent of George Armstrong Custer in The Battle of the Little Bighorn.
Bizjak easily won the noticeably unfair fight to give Aurora a 1-0 lead. More importantly, it inspired the Greenmen to acknowledge a certain indispensable seven-letter word.
"We’re just trying to preach to do the right things, the simple things," Bibza said. "Keep putting ourselves in high-percentage probability opportunities and the opportunities are going to fall."
The Greenmen didn’t have to give their faith "a fighting chance" when they added another goal late in the first half.
In fact, Aurora could gleefully play the role of spectator for a brief, but extremely satisfying moment.
The Greenmen sprung another unexpected leak in Tallmadge’s purportedly indestructible dam when a lively ball struck one too many blue and gold jerseys.
After the ball was kicked deep from their own end, the Blue Devils saw it suddenly travel backward due to some ill-timed friendly fire.
That’s because the ball struck a Tallmadge player and then ricocheted into the Blue Devils’ net.
In other words, Tallmadge learned this cruel lesson about the often bipolar lifestyle that surrounds the pitch.
Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you.
"That’s the game," Bibza said. "Sometimes you score accidental ones where they kick it into each other and sometimes you do all the right things and you still miss. That’s the way the game goes."
Aurora didn’t miss when it did all the right things in the second half. On three separate occasions, at least.
A little more than six minutes after halftime ended, Hugo Krondorfer got into the scoring act moments after a corner kick.
William Guzy found himself all alone on a breakaway to make it 4-0 nearly 20 minutes later.
All was not totally lost for the home team, though. The Blue Devils didn’t flee from their breathtaking new castle without any merchandise.
Thanks to a gorgeous backward pass from Andrew Krukemeyer, Suhaib Mahameed had some real estate in what was previously a condemned house.
With only Greenmen goalie Ethan Hoff in his line of sight, Mahameed easily scored from point-blank range in the 72nd minute.
Alas, Tallmadge didn’t have much time to celebrate its lone experience in la-la land.
That’s because Aurora struck one last time when Pozniak scored off a feed from Zach Geier with less than 90 seconds remaining.
When the statistics were tallied up, the Greenmen proved rather convincingly which squad was in charge.
Aurora had a 12-2 advantage in shots on goal and an 8-0 edge in corner kicks. Hoff needed to make just two saves as his highly potent, playmaking teammates kept the ball miles away from the Greenmen goalkeeper’s restricted zone.
Thanks to the win, Aurora improved to 5-1 in 2019. Nevertheless, Bibza isn’t particularly concerned with the material aspects of his team’s progress.
The veteran coach prefers a more spiritual bottom line.
Or, as 20th-century British novelist Roald Dahl once said: "Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it."
"We didn’t want to have control of the game and still not win," Bibza said. "There was a little bit better belief that it was going to happen."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.