Overtime goal sends Walsh Jesuit past Twinsburg boys soccer
TWINSBURG — Long-time Twinsburg boys soccer coach Mike Lally knows all about defensive soccer.
Throughout Lally's tenure, Twinsburg has often followed the defend-and-counter blueprint for success.
However, when Twinsburg hosted Walsh Jesuit in a Division I district semifinal Oct. 28 at Tiger Stadium, It was the Tigers who found themselves carrying most of the offensive impetus.
Lally knows that, if you're going to play offensive soccer, you've got to take your chance. By the midpoint of the second half, Lally worried his team might pay for not using it possession advantage.
That premonition turned out to be right.
After playing the Tigers to a scoreless tie through regulation, Walsh got a brilliant individual goal from senior forward Michael DelPrete in overtime to claim a 1-0 win.
DelPrete — who is a resident of Twinsburg — sent Walsh Into a Division I district final at Hudson Oct. 31 at 1 p.m. Top-seeded Hudson defeate Austintown-Fitch 7-1 Oct. 28.
Walsh improved to 8-6-4 on the season, while Twisnburg ended the year at 10-5-3.
Walsh coach Tony Catanzarite praised goaltender Liam Horgan and his defense for holding up despite being under pressure most of the night. Horgan finished with four saves.
"[Horgan] has been our rock back there all year," Catanzarite said. "He and the defense did a great job. I believe all four of our back four played all 85 minutes tonight. We wanted to sit back and counter tonight. And it worked."
"It was going to be tough game for us tonight," DelPrete said. "We knew they were going to come at us with a high press and we had to stay disciplined."
Lally could do little but rue his team's lack of finishing and salute Walsh's defense.
"I think that we had a lot of the ball tonight," Lally said. "I think they were not super dangerous in the counterattack. But all it takes is one moment. We turned off for a second on that throw in and they capitalized."
There was little sign the game would go to overtime in the first half, as the Tigers spent much of the it in the Warriors' end.
Junior Uleto Fuentes and senior David GeBeau looked dangerous on numerous occasions for the Tigers, but found their shots were blocked, went wide or were saved by Horgan.
What turned out to be Twinsburg's best chance came in the 18th minute. Junior Cameron Griffin took a free kick from just outside the box, but his dipping shot rattled off the crossbar.
Twinsburg finished the game with a 5-4 edge in shots on goal, as the Warriors did not register a shot on goal until the second half.
Walsh pushed forward a bit more in the second half, but the Tigers defense was up to the challenge, as it got back well to defuse numerous rushes. Tiger goaltender Connor Stuchtal, who often pressed off of his line, finished with three saves.
Interestingly, Stuchal was one of Twinsburg's best offensive weapons in the second half. He took several long free kicks, which Twinsburg was able to run onto in the box. However, despite these chances, the Tigers couldn't find a way past Horgan.
"When we had those chances from Uleto and David and they didn't go in, I started thinking, 'This is not good,'" Lally said.
Thus, the game went to overtime to overtime tied at 0-0. The critical moment for Walsh came off a throw-in from the left side in the 83rd minute.
"I knew that one vs. one was my best chance," DelPrete said. "I just ran onto that throw in. They've got an amazing goaltender, but I just had to take care of."
DelPrete fought off his defender, got past him and ran the ball to the end line. Going one-on-one with Stuchtal, DelPrete tried in slide his initial shot inside the Tiger goaltender.
Stuchtal saved the first shot, but DelPrete put the rebound into the net, earning the sudden-death win for the Warriors.
"He's been on a roll lately," Catanzarite said. "He's our leading scorer and he's come up with some great goals for us."
Both DelPetre and Catanzarite acknowledged beating Hudson in the district final will be their biggest challenge so far.
"Hudson is going to be tough game," DelPrete said. "This is what we've been working for since May."
"This is why we play the games we do," Catanzarite said.