CUYAHOGA FALLS — One moment of magic or madness can be the difference in the game of soccer, especially in a win-or-go-home playoff situation.
Such was the case Monday at the Laybourne Sports Complex when Cuyahoga Falls hosted Kent Roosevelt.
With the game looking certain to head to overtime, one bad bounce of the ball allowed Roosevelt to win and ended Falls’ best season in a decade.
An own goal off a corner kick in the 74th minute gave Roosevelt a 1-0 win in a Division I sectional playoff game in the Solon District. Roosevelt improved to 9-8 and advances to face top-seeded Walsh Jesuit Thursday at 7 p.m.
Falls ended its season at 6-7-4.
The game was tight throughout, which was something Roosevelt coach Jerry Shutway expected.
"It’s not always going to be [beautiful] soccer in the playoffs," Shutway said. "It’s about nerves. It’s the mistakes that you make that hurt you. We just concentrated on keeping our composure."
Falls coach Greg Shoults could only lament what could have been.
"That was my only real concern: To give up something off a set piece," Shoults said. "We pretty much controlled their better players and had them in check.
"Our downfall was that we couldn’t get the ball wide," he added. "We preach and preach, but you can’t play for them."
The first half was a wrestling match, with scoring chances at a premium for both sides. Despite having the majority of possession, Falls was unable to get a shot on goal in the first half.
"Kent was keeping a lot of girls back," Shoults said. "They knew Emma Brustowski was a threat, but we didn’t do a good job getting her the ball."
Meanwhile, Roosevelt ace Kassidy Fischer got a shot off from distance in the 14th minute, but it was saved by Falls goaltender Sydney Knepper. Knepper had two saves in the game, while Roosevelt’s Cassidy Bourne had four saves.
"It’s a narrow field," Shutway said. "Because Kasiday was in such a free-roaming role, I don’t think they were able to really shadow her. Because it’s so narrow, you can’t have the ball for more than half a second before the pressure comes.
Falls’ best chance came in the 59th minute when Kaylie Ward let rip a high shot from the top of the box, but Bourne made the save.
Roosevelt’s Maggie Oldham nearly found the goal in the 68th minute off a free kick from 30 yards out, but her arching shot hit the top of the cross bar.
In the 74th minute, the moment came when Roosevelt earned two straight corner kicks. Corrin Wolfgang’s initial kick was punched out of the goal mouth by Knepper for a second corner kick.
This time, Wolfgang’s corner kick curled toward the near post, where it bounced off a Falls defender and into the net, making it 1-0.
Falls was unable to get a shot on goal in the final six minutes, as Roosevelt did a solid job killing the clock.
Shoults will say goodbye to 11 seniors this year. Despite the loss, Shoults noted Falls made huge strides this year, as the Black Tigers’ hosted their first playoff game in recent memory.
"Their goal was to win a playoff game," Shoults said. "We had a couple chances that we just weren’t able to do anything with. Restarts are a big part of the game."