WESTLAKE - Avon Lake capitalized on the rarest of occurrences to salvage a tie to start a brutal week.
The Shoremen's Alex Yungvirt scored in the 73rd minute Saturday night to draw even with Westlake, and each team missed chances over the final five minutes of a 1-1 tie.
Yungvirt fired in a shot past Westlake goalkeeper Alec Ferrell after Avon Lake's Joe Villari found Yungvirt on a corner kick. The Shoremen earned the corner after Ferrell, one of the area's best goalkeepers and a longtime starter for the Demons, was unable to corral a long shot by Yungvirt, the ball trickling just past the end line to set up the corner.
"I want to credit (Villari)," Yungvirt said. "He did the work on that one. We were happy with how we played in the second half. We felt like we should have played better in the first half, but we battled back and did what we needed to do to get the tie."
The Shoremen, 2-0-2 overall and 1-0-1 in Southwestern Conference play, take on SWC favorite Amherst on Wednesday and Massillon Jackson on Saturday.
Ferrell otherwise was stellar over the final 20 minutes as the Shoremen found their rhythm. In the 70th minute, he stopped Avon Lake's Nolan Kovach from point-blank range, and after Yungvirt's goal, Ferrell used every centimeter of his long frame to hang on to another lunging Yungvirt shot in the 75th minute.
"(Ferrell) played a heck of a game," Avon Lake coach Dan Ogilvy said. "We got our best chances when we were knocking the ball around and finding open players, and he just played great. Some games, with a different goalie, we could have had three or four goals."
Avon Lake goalie Zac Strimbu also kept his team in the game: He made a leaping save of Andy Haders' left-footed shot in the 50th minute, then stopped Westlake's Luke Blazevic on a breakaway in the 74th minute after the Shoremen gave away the ball inside their own 18. A minute later, Strimbu turned away Tyler Sedam after another defensive breakdown.
"We made a mistake not picking up the ball cleanly, but it never should have come to that," Westlake coach Mike Besu said. "We should have put the game away with the chances we had, in the first half and the second half."
The Shoremen controlled the early action, getting two good chances inside the first seven minutes. Nick Stephenson wasted little time, launching a lefty shot from 30 yards that Ferrell turned away. And just two minutes later, the ball fell to Kevin Gjyrezi inside the 18-yard box, but Ferrell again was up to the task and a Shoremen rebound sailed well wide.
Ogilvy said the Shoremen, four games in, still are in the feeling-out stage, and are learning how to play fast and slow.
"We're trying to show the guys we can play both ways, and we're going to have to against our opposition," Ogilvy said.
The Demons controlled the action for the bulk of the game, and nearly scored in the 31st minute, as Ferrell's long punt took a Westlake bounce, pushing Brian Sutcliffe in alone with Strimbu - who made another save.
Six minutes later, Strimbu again initially turned back Westlake just before halftime, after Sedam beat Avon Lake's defense to the end line. Sedam turned and fed Blazevic, who was stoned by Strimbu - but the rebound fell to Sedam, who beat Strimbu to get Westlake on the board.
Contact Joel Hammond at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Westlake 1, Avon Lake 1
• GOALS: (A) Alex Yungvirt (73rd); (W) Tyler Sedam (39th)
• ASSISTS: (AL) Joe Villari; (W) Luke Blazevic
• SHOTS: Avon Lake 16, Westlake 16
• SHOTS ON GOAL: Avon Lake 10, Westlake 11
• SAVES: (AL) Zac Strimbu 10, (W) Alec Ferrell 9
• CORNER KICKS: Avon Lake 4, Westlake 3
• GOAL KICKS: Avon Lake 10, Westlake 7
• OFFSIDE: Avon Lake 0, Westlake 2
• FOULS: Avon Lake 5, Westlake 4
• CARDS: None
• HALFTIME: Westlake, 1-0
• JV: Avon Lake, 1-0