Gluth's late goal leads Stow boys soccer past state-ranked Twinsburg
TWINSBURG — Twinsburg coach Mike Lally and Stow-Munroe Falls' Kyle Kosmala have been matching wits for decades on the boys soccer field.
Both coaches have gone through cycles where their teams' personality and style has changed, but the physicality between the two squads has been a constant.
Lally and Kosmala have long expressed admiration for each other's programs, but that respect also means both the Tigers and Bulldogs go full bore into each other. Another hard-fought chapter in that rivalry played Sept. 29 at Tiger Stadium.
As Tiger assistant coach Gus Crichlow put it, "Typical Twinsburg Stow game."
The Tigers had the lion's share of possession and scoring chances, but a goal from Stow captain Aaron Gluth with 2:17 left in the game led Stow to a 1-0 win.
Stow improved to 6-4-2, 3-1-1 in the Suburban League National Conference, while Twinsburg suffered its first loss of the season. The Tigers dropped to 6-1-3, 2-1-2 in the National Conference.
Kosmala said the Bulldogs followed their game plan well.
"Our guys, we live dangerously this year," Kosmala said, with a laugh. "We do a lot of defending and then try to hit team on the counter. The guys have really bought into the system."
Lally said his team needed to be just a bit sharper.
"It was a nice goal," Lally said. "You have to be able to clear your line, and we need to be a bit more ruthless in defense. It's unfortunate for, but give credit to Stow. Both teams had their game plans, and they executed them.
"We created our chances and had plenty of the ball," Lally added. "You've got to be able to finish."
The loss was a stunner to Twinsburg, which came into the contest ranked No. 12 in the latest Division I boys soccer poll from the Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association.
The Tigers had the Bulldogs under siege for most of the first half, but Twinsburg only had two shots on goal despite a 4-0 edge in corner kicks.
"It's difficult because its hard to stay positive when you defend so much," Gluth said. "We did a great job tonight."
The Bulldogs defense blocked numerous shots in the first half, but Kosmala noted Stow wouldn't have won the game without some heroics from junior goaltender Alex Tosko.
In the 27th minute, Tiger midfielder Uleto Fuentes unleashed a shot that looked destined for the upper left corner of the net, only for Tosko to make a brilliant diving save, parrying the ball around the post.
Both coaches praised Tosko, who finished with five saves on the night, including another diving stop in the second half to deny Twinsburg's Nathan Glessman.
"This was his best game of the season, and he's had some good ones," Kosmala said. "You ask your keeper to make two or three really good saves in the game, and he made them all tonight."
"Their goaltender played a great game," Lally said. "On Glessman's shot, I think he was screened, and he still made the save."
After the scoreless first half, the game opened up after halftime, with Stow looking dangerous on its set pieces. However, the Tiger defense and goalkeeper Carter Stuchal kept Stow at bay, while the Tigers tried to unlock the Bulldogs' defense.
Just when it looked like the game was headed for a scoreless draw, Gluth struck.
After a turnover in the midfield, Gluth got the ball about 35 yards out from the Tigers' net. Having seen Stuchal move off his line numerous times during the game, Gluth attempted to go for goal.
"I just tried my luck," Gluth said. "When I hit It, I was thinking 'It's too high' but then it went in."
Gluth's shot flew over Stuchal and dipped just below the crossbar to make it 1-0.
"I definitely think he was shooting," Kosmala said. "I've seen him make that shot in practice before, but he never hit in a game."
"It means everything to get a win here," Gluth said. "Twinsburg's got a great team."
Stuchal finished with two saves on the night, as the Tigers finished with a 5-3 edge in shots on goal.