TWINSBURG — Playing soccer in heat and high humidity is no fun.
Many soccer players and fans have expressed dismay over the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, where temperatures often travel into triple digits.
It wasn’t quite that hot Saturday at Tiger Stadium in Twinsburg, but it was clear late summer temperatures around 90 degrees played a big role when the Aurora boys soccer team visited the Tigers.
Twinsburg fought through the conditions and got a headed goal in the 72nd minute to score a 2-1 win over the Greenmen in a Suburban League crossover showdown. The Tigers improved to 7-3-1, while Aurora dropped to 7-4.
Twinsburg head coach coach Michael Lally said the heat had a huge effect on the game.
"Both teams were really feeling it late," he said. "We’re really young already and had to play even more sophomores and freshmen [Saturday].
"[Alex] Bibza is a really creative midfielder for them. We wanted to make sure we had our eyes on him."
Greenmen head coach Jason Bibza noted the game went to the Tigers because Aurora did not convert its scoring chances.
"It was an even game," Coach Bibza said. "They got a header in the box and we didn’t. It’s disappointing."
The Greenmen had the majority of the early possession and chances, but it was Twinsburg that got the early goal.
Tigers’ forward Aidan Smith sent a ball into the box from the wing, which midfielder Emerson Schneeman ran onto, took a touch and put home at close range.
"Emerson made a great run," Lally said.
After the goal, Twinsburg spent much of the first half in its own end.
Just went it looked like the Tigers would get to halftime with the lead. However, Aurora pulled level with 17 seconds left in the half.
After a nice run by Alex Bibza, the Greenmen had a shot deflect off the legs of a Twinsburg defender. Aurora sophomore Zach Geier reacted to the loose ball first and put a high shot into the net just inside the right post.
With the score tied at 1-1, Lally told his team to stay compact.
"We knew it was going to be a grind," he said. "Neither team seemed to have much energy to go forward. We told them to just take it 10 minutes at a time."
Once again, the Greenmen had the majority of the possession, but managed only one shot on goal in the second half.
In the 54th minute, Aurora had two shots blocked before Ben Wilson was denied at close range by Tigers’ goalie Connor Stuchal. The Greenmen finished with a 7-5 edge in corner kicks, but they were unable to take advantage of their set pieces.
"We just didn’t win the ball in the box," Coach Bibza said.
Twinsburg scored the game-winning goal in the 72nd minute off a corner kick from the right side.
Sophomore Uleto Fuentes served a curling ball to the back post, which found midfielder Jason Karhoff open. Karhoff powered a header into the net, giving Aurora goalkeeper Ethan Hoff no chance.
"Uleto’s service was brilliant," Lally said. "He had one last week were he put it in the net from the corner. We asked Jason to step up and do what Connor Gantous does for us in the air and he has done it."
Lally noted Karhoff was his man of the match, not only for the goal, but for his defensive work marking Alex Bibza.
The Greenmen everything they had at the Tigers’ goal in the final five minutes. Aurora’s best chance came when it earned a free kick in the 79th minute just outside the box, but Alex Bibza’s free kick deflected off Twinsburg’s defense.
Stuchal finished with four saves and Hoff had three, as both teams finishes with five shots on goal.
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, email@example.com or @MLeonard_GHO.