Twinsburg boys soccer makes early lead count vs. Cuyahoga Falls

Michael Leonard
Kent Weeklies
Twinsburg's Nick Lesko (4) battles Cuyahoga Falls' Logan Webb (21) for the ball during a game last season.

TWINSBURG — For Cuyahoga Falls boys soccer, the 2020-21 school year will be its final one in the Suburban League National Conference.

Falls won't look back on their time in the National Conference fondly, as the Black Tigers have yet to win a conference game.

Or course, the Black Tigers would love to erase that zero off their record before leaving for the American Conference next fall. Host Twinsburg had other ideas.

Twinsburg got two goals in the first 10 minutes of game and made it stand up for a 2-0 win over Falls Sept. 8 at Tiger Stadium.

Twinsburg improved to 4-0, 2-0 in the National Conference, while Falls dropped to 1-2, 0-2 in the conference.

Twinsburg was in control through most of the contest, but the Tigers didn't quite have their cutting edge going forward after the first 10 minutes.

Twinsburg coach Mike Lally said there was a good reason his team slowed down a bit.

"We're not match fit yet," Lally said. "We're going 22 guys deep on bench. Luckily, we've got a lot of guys who can play. We've been training at Phase 1 or Phase 2 training all summer, but that's not the same as playing soccer.

"Our starters are playing about 60 to 70 percent of the minutes right now," Lally said. "We're going to keep pushing that as we go on."

Meanwhile, Falls coach Dave Orotopan lamented Falls' slow start.

"We came out a little bit flat," Ortopan said. "That's been kind of our problem all season so far. The inexperience we have shows. We did some good things in the second half."

Falls found its goal under siege in the early going.

In the fourth minute, Falls goalkeeper Kevin Gilroy was able to stop a shot from Twinsburg, but Tiger forward Ian Radar reacted to the ball first, cut inside the box and put a shot just inside the left post to make it 1-0.

"Radar is really hitting his stride," Lally said. "He's been getting so much better recently."

Falls then gave Twinsburg a chance to double its lead in the eighth minute when a Black Tiger defender was called for a handball in the box.

Twinsburg junior midfielder Uleto Fuentes stepped up to take the penalty kick and buried his shot in the low left corner to make it 2-0.

Fuentes was the engine of Twinsburg's offense for much of the night.

"He's a talented player," Lally said. "He's capable of a lot of good work."

After the second goal, Twinsburg spent the rest of the first half in the Black Tigers' end, but could not do anything with the possession. Twinsburg finished with a 5-0 edge in shots on goal in the first half.

"We were able to possess the ball in our first two games against North Royalton and St. V [St. Vincent-St. Mary]," Ortopan said. "They did a good job gumming up our middle, not allowing Muhammed [Abdulhameed] to get going."

"They're physical. It's a typical Twinsburg team," Ortopan added. "We talked at halftime about just raising our game."

Lally complimented both teams' midfields after the game.

"Jason Karoff has a great game for us," Lally said. "Our back four did a good job playing the ball forward when they came up."

While the second half was more even, Falls didn't get any clear cut chances at goal. Falls best opportunity on net came from a long free kick, but junior Noah Blake's shot went just wide of the goal on the 48th minute.

Meanwhile, Gilroy made a couple of excellent saves in second half to keep the contest at 2-0. Gilroy's best stop came in the 78th minute, when he tipped a free kick from Fuentes over the bar.

Gilroy finished with eight saves on the night.

"Kevin has put a lot of work in," Ortopan said. "He's stepping up right when we need him to."

Twinsburg goalkeeper Connor Stuchal finished with two saves on the night as the Tigers finished with a 10-2 edge in shots on goal.

Twinsburg also had a 10-3 edge in corner kicks.