Thursday, November 23, 2017 Elyria 27°


Boys soccer: Pioneers fall to Solon



  ELYRIAElyria’s winless boys soccer team took the field Tuesday afternoon against Solon, which according to some polls is one of the seven best high-school teams in Ohio.

But for the longest time, memories of the U.S. Olympic hockey team vs. the Soviet Union came to mind. And Villanova-Georgetown in the 1985 NCAA basketball final. As a matter of fact, one might reasonably have been reminded of Appalachian State-Michigan, which is even more fun.

The Pioneers scored less than two minutes into this Northeast Ohio Conference match and their lead held up for 36 minutes against the Comets, who were Division I regional finalists last autumn.

But Solon tied the score with a goal less than two minutes from halftime. It turned the momentum around, changed the nature of the game and Solon went on to a 4-1 victory at Pioneer Field.

Nevertheless, it might have been the best soccer match an Elyria team has played in recent seasons, certainly the best against such a highly regarded opponent. And the score might have been more one-sided without the remarkable play of Pioneers goalkeeper Jared Backs.

Backs slid headfirst off his line to make several of the 13 saves with which he was credited. He went horizontal several times to prevent Comets goals and, in a highlight film save. went horizontal to punch what almost certainly would have been a Solon goal harmlessly over the crossbar.

“I saw the Solon player settle the ball in the middle of the field and I knew he was going to shoot,” Backs said. “He shot it and it was a great shot, but luckily I was able to punch it over the bar.

“They have a ton of great scorers on that team,” he said. “It was great for me to play against them, and a good workout for me. I saved some shots against some of the best shooters in Ohio. I wasn’t even a goalie until last season. We didn’t have a goalie and they thought I was tall and I might be good, so they just threw me in there.”

Backs’ performance was prototypical of the Pioneers’ defensive effort – and everything, of course, is relative. The defense surrendered four goals but, again, this was U.S.-Soviet Union, Villanova-Georgetown, Appalachian State-Michigan.

“The first five minutes and the last five minutes are the most crucial of any half,” said Elyria coach Greg Leininger. “Obviously, we won the first five minutes of the first half and they won the second five minutes. It was a momentum killer there at the end (of the first half), but I thought we still came out the second half and put on a good show against an amazing team.”

A nice-sized crowd was, in a word, flabbergasted when the Pioneers took a 1-0 lead in the second minute. They scored on a nifty give-and-go play that saw co-captain Matt Schilke pass to Rayshawn Camel, then get the ball back from Camel and left-foot a shot into the Comets’ net.

The lead held up until just 1:52 remained before the break. At that point, the Comets’ Dylan Havelka sent a pass through to Ryan Greenhill, who tied the match with the first of his two goals. Solon took the lead for good when Cory Sussel scored in the 52nd minute on a shot Backs got a hand on and nearly saved.

The Comets scored again in the 63rd minute and put it out of reach in the 69th minute.

Solon coach Ryan Conner, former boys and girls head soccer coach at Firelands, wasn’t totally surprised by the Pioneers’ early lead.

“That’s what happens when you drive an hour, get off the bus, you’re flat and you’re not ready to go,” said Conner, who’s starting his second season with the Comets. “I told them, ‘You can’t come in here and just go through the motions.’ We just weren’t ready and they jumped on us like a good home team does.”

Solon, which plays top-ranked St. Edward on Saturday, improved to 5-0. Elyria fell to 0-3-1.

Solon 4, Elyria 1


Goals: (S) Ryan Greenhill 2, Cory Sussel, Denim Nagelski, (E) Matt Schilke.


Assists: (S) Dylan Havelka, (E) Rayshawn Camel.


Shots: Solon 33, Elyria 4.


Shots on target: Solon 15, Elyria 2.


Saves: (S) David Haimes 1, (E) Jared Backs 13.


Infractions: Solon 15, Elyria 10.


Corner kicks: Solon 8, Elyria 0.


Offside: Solon 1, Elyria 0.


Cards: None.


Halftime: 1-1. 


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