Late goal allows Woodridge to get past Tallmadge boys soccer

Michael Leonard
Kent Weeklies
Tallmadge junior Nick Archer steps into a free kick during a game earlier this season. Archer scored Tallmadge's lone goal off a free kick in a 2-1 home loss to Woodridge Oct. 3.

TALLMADGE — Both Tallmadge and Woodridge boys soccer looked to pick up some momentum in the late season.

The Bulldogs had been foundering of late, including a tough loss at the hands of Metro Athletic Conference foe Ravenna, while Tallmadge looked to be picking up momentum.

The contest between the two sided followed a script long-time soccer fans are familar with: One team bossed the game for long periods, but the team under the most pressure escaped with the win.

Woodridge got a late counterattack goal from junior Aiden Lang to pull out a 2-1 win over Tallmadge Oct. 3 at Blue Devil Stadium.

Woodridge evened its record at 6-6 with the win, while Tallmadge fell to 4-4-1 on the season.

Bulldogs coach Kalman Toth said his team responded just the way he wanted.

"We managed our lineup and chances very well today," Toth said. "Today was an example of what we can do when everyone plays together. The offense we worke on all week showed itself today.

Tallmadge coach David Shahata note the loss for his team was not from lack of effort, as the Blue Devils finished with a 6-4 edge in shots on a goal and large edge in possession.

"We had the chances," Shahata said. "They didn't come out in our favor."

Tallmadge had the ball deep in Woodridge territory early and often, as Wooridge defe their best to counterattack on when it had the chance.

Woodridge goaltender Gavin Sickles did a good job marshalling his area, as he thwarted several long runs from Tallmadge's Eric Solomon and Ben Hudak.

"We have to just do a better job of taking our chances," Solomon said.

Sickles would finish with five sakve on the night, drawing praise from Toth.

After being under pressure for most of the first 20 minutes, Woodridge opened the scoring against the run of play.

In the 27th minute, Bulldog junior midfielder Daniel Batyrbeaev sent an inch-perfect through ball to forward Nathan Dunaj. Dunaj split the defense and went one-on-on with Tallmadge keeper Jamysen Montgomery before slotting a low shot home.

Toth said he had a feeling his Dunaj could break out.

"I literally grabbed him before the game and said 'If you get in the box today, you're scoring,'" Toth said. "He had a great game."

Tallmadge's 1-0 deficit lasted only two minutes.

After earning a free kick on left side about 40 yards out from goal, Tallmadge junior Nick Archer stepped up to take the kick. Archer sent a scorching ball into the box that eluded everyone, including Sickles as it bounced into the far side of the net.

Tallmadge kept pushing to the find the second goal, but Sickles made a couple of brilliant saves to keep the score at 1-1 heading into halftime.

The game was much more even in the second half, with neither squad getting much in the way of chances.

In the 73rd minute, however, the Bulldogs found the game-winner on the counterattack.

Dunaj was able to run down the left side of the field all the way to the end line, where he sent a ball into the six-yard box. The ball went over Montgomery and right to Lang, who headed it home at point-blank ranged.

"That second goal was literally something we worked on a practice, so it was nice to see it work," Toth said., "We're trying to work the ball in, then out, then in to get the defense moving. Everything that we worked on came out today."

Montgomery finished with two saves for Blue Devils, despite briefly leaving the game with a leg injury. Tallmadge finished with a 2-1 edge in corner kicks.

"I don't think the better team won today," said Tallmadge captain Andrew Kukemeyer. "Woodridge made the plays they needed to and we didn't. That's how soccer goes sometimes."