Twinsburg girls soccer wins Battle of the Tigers with Cuyahoga Falls
TWINSBURG — When it comes to the Twinsburg and Cuyahoga Falls girls soccer teams, expectations are on different levels for these two sets of Tigers.
Twinsburg has eyes on maintaining its place among Northeast Ohio's best teams; Cuyahoga Falls figured to be in full rebuilding mode after the loss of 12 seniors from a team that won six games last season.
To make matters worse, Falls had some misfortune beset it before its season opener, making a tough task even tougher.
Twinsburg dominated play and ran out a 3-0 winner Sept. 2 in a game that was moved to Twinsburg Tiger Stadium.
Twinsburg improved to 3-0, 1-0 in the Suburban League National Conference, while Falls dropped to 0-1.
Twinsburg coach John Garber said he was just grateful to have his team be able to play, given the restrictions of dealing with the pandemic.
"We just want to express as much gratitude as possible," Garber said. "The girls having to play every game as if it's their last.
"Obviously, with not being able to have scrimmages and just playing each other, to start the season 3-0, I couldn't be more proud of the girls. We've scored 10 goals already. We got a lot of quality chances."
Meanwhile, Cuyahoga Falls coach Greg Shoults had to feel like the soccer gods were working against him from the start.
Earlier this week, Shoults said Falls senior captain Jenai Blake injured her knee during a drill in practice and looks to be out or the season.
Then, electrical issues at Laybourne Field forced the switch to Tiger Stadium Sept. 2.
Finally, Falls saw Alyssa Walters suffer a knee injury when she collided with a teammate during warm ups, knocking another starter out of the lineup.
With so many things going wrong, Shoults just wanted to see his team give a solid effort.
"It shows the lack of experience we have," Shoults said. "It wasn't quite working for us tonight. When we had the ball, instead of looking to possess the ball, we were busy trying to get rid of it.
"[Twinsburg] played exactly the way I thought they would," he added. "They did a great job possessing it."
Indeed, the Tigers had the Black Tigers pinned in their own end for much of the contest, as Twinsburg had all 11 players in on their possession game.
That ball control allowed Twinsburg to finish with a 10-2 edge in shot on goal and a 9-1 edge in corner kicks. However, while Twinsburg dominated possession, it didn't always have the best luck in front of goal, as it had 31 shots overall.
"Finishing, like any other part of the game, is something that's going to take time to sharpen," Garber said. "We'll work on it later this week."
Twinsburg spurned a couple of early chances before it opened up the scoring in the 11th minute.
Twinsburg's Brenna Utrup slid a ball to the top of the box to Jadyn Harris. The sophomore turned a hit into a brilliant lofted shot over Falls goalkeeper Ava Bowser and into the net to make it 1-0.
Twinsburg's leading scorer in the early season doubled the Tigers advantage in the 20th minute. After taking a pass from midfielder Klaire Wienroth, junior Emily Patryzk blasted a ball high into the net to make it 2-0.
It was Patryzk's fifth goal on the young season.
Twinsburg's got a third goal on a free kick from defender Paige Hepke. Taking a free kick from just outside the box, Hepke slid a ball on the ground, which Lana Furniss turned into the corner of the net.
While Shoults lamented how poorly his team defended the set piece, Garber praised Hepke, noting she could be a rising star for the Tigers' backline.
Twinsburg remained in control of the contest, to the point where Garber put in his entire reserve lineup for between the 50th and 70th minute mark.
"We had a lot of girls contributing tonight," Garber said. "Our reserves were in for a good 20 minutes, and our level of play didn't drop."
Twinsburg goalies Alexis Cellura and Elliotte Schneeman each had one save to preserve the shutout.
Bowser, who was one of only two returning starters Falls had available for the game, finished with five saves, as Twinsburg also hit the woodwork twice.
Shoults said he knows the task in front of him for the rest of the year.
"Of the girls who came out for soccer, two-thirds of them are sophomores and freshmen," Shoults said. "At the end of last season, I told our girls to go out and play club ball in the off season to help develop their game. Twinsburg's coach said every player they have played club ball. I've got four players who do."