Mustafa's late winner leads Stow boys soccer past Roosevelt
STOW — Respect, aggression and physicality form the foundation for the rivalry between Stow-Munroe Falls and Kent Roosevelt boys soccer.
All three elements were present Oct. 21 when Stow hosted Roosevelt at Bulldog Stadium. This time, the rivalry game had the added pressure of also being a first-round playoff game in Division I.
In the long history between the Rough Riders and Bulldogs, few games have been as dramatic.
Senior midfielder Muamar Mustafa was the hero for Stow, as he scored a sudden-victory goal in the 109th minute, giving the Bulldogs a 2-1 win over the Rough Riders.
Stow improved to 8-6-3 and advanced to face University School in a Division I sectional final Oct. 24 at 1 p.m.
Roosevelt finished the season at 5-7-3.
The mutual respect was clear between veteran Stow coach Kyle Kosmala and first-year Roosevelt coach Garyn Daniels after the game. After Stow won the first game 1-0 back on Sept. 17, both coaches knew they were in for a dogfight.
"Every time we play them, it's a battle," Kosmala said. "It's big backyard rivalry. We had limited opportunities to score tonight, but thankfully, we were able to put a few in."
"It's definitely tough," Daniels said. "Kudos to Kyle Kosmala. They are always going to come at you. You know they're going to battle you, especially in the playoffs. Our kids battled hard tonight and I'm proud of them."
With two teams who prefer to play defensive, direct soccer, the question was who would take the offensive impetus. The Bulldogs answered that, as they had a large edge in possession in the first half.
"We played one of our better offensive halves in the first half," Kosmala said. "We were able to move the ball well from side to side."
However, the possession advantage counted for nothing until almost halftime, when Stow found the breakthrough.
With the Bulldogs rushing on a counterattack in the 39th minute, midfielder Nathan Collins centered a ball that deflected to Nyiles Spann in the box.
Spann fired a low shot past Roosevelt goaltender Ethan Jenkins to make it 1-0. It was the lone shot on goal for either team in the first half.
"At halftime, I told them 'We spotted them a goal,'" Daniels said,. "We have to put out more aggression and offense in the second half. I think that we did a good job of that."
Indeed, after having no shots on the goal in the first half, the Rough Riders pressed the action for most of the second half.
After a couple of near misses, the Rough Riders found the equalizer off a free kick in the 68th minute.
Junior Reese Campana teed up the free kick from the left sideline and sent a high ball into the box. The ball deflected off a couple of players before falling to Roosevelt captain Josh Hido at the back post, who blasted it home from point-blank range.
"They had a nice goal," Kosmala said. "It was almost a carbon copy of our goal in that it was a scramble in the box."
Both teams had chances to win the game in regulation, but Jenkins and Stow goaltender Alex Tosko stood firm.
Stow finished the game with an 8-5 edge in shots on goal. Jenkins finished with six saves, while Tosko had four.
In the sudden-death overtime periods, both squads came within inches of winning, only to be denied by the woodwork.
In the 89th minute, Roosevelt forward Jayden Reynold saw his shot bank off the inside of the left post, but somehow the ball stayed out.
In the 100th minute, Collins made a cutting run across the box, only to hit the right post.
Just when it looked like the game was headed to a penalty-kick shootout, Stow found the moment of magic it needed with less than two minutes left on the clock.
After the Bulldogs were able to dig the ball out on the sideline, Stow fed the ball to the center and Spann ran up the middle and unleashed a shot, forcing a diving save from Jenkins.
"I just knew my teammate was going to rip it, so there was no way he was going to pass me the ball," Mustafa said. "I just had to follow the shot."
Follow the shot Mustafa did. He gathered the rebound and blasted it home at short range to give the Bulldogs the victory.
"We were trying to go through the layers [of defense] all night," Kosmala said. "We were able to do that. Mo was just following the shot and doing what you need to do."
"It was a crazy game," Mustafa said. "They were battling us all the way. We're a team that likes to play defense more. We don't get that many opportunities, but when we do, we take advantage of them."