ELYRIA — Ryan Medves did something no other player on the Knights of Columbus Stadium field proved capable of doing Tuesday night, breaking the tie between Columbia and Elyria Catholic.
Medves’ successful boot in the fourth round of the penalty-kick shootout provided the final margin of victory as the Panthers escaped with a 2-1 win in a Division III boys district semifinal soccer match.
With the win, No. 2 seed Elyria Catholic (9-7-1) advances to Saturday’s district final against top-seeded Oberlin.
How even were the Panthers and the Raiders? They were tied at halftime, still tied at the end of regulation and remained tied after 30 minutes of sudden victory overtime … and still tied after the first two rounds of penalty kicks.
“Both teams played with amazing heart tonight. Columbia did what it had to do and we came out and did what we had to do,” Elyria Catholic coach Attila Csiszar said.
“I could tell our boys were exhausted by the end of the game, but that’s part of the game and you’ve got to push through and that’s exactly what we did.”
Considering the number of near-misses both teams had in the extra sessions it was almost a miracle the match went into penalty kicks.
Elyria Catholic junior Michael Saddler, one of the remaining players from last year’s district championship team, his the crossbar with a shot in the 88th minute.
Columbia’s Matt Zelinsky took a free kick from 30 yards out in the 97th minute that also struck the crossbar before deflecting back into play and getting played out to the sideline.
The Panthers had one more chance to win it in the 101st minute as another shot hit the post and bounced straight out away from the goal.
David Carder made 16 saves in just his fifth start in goal for the Columbia, which finished the season 7-10-2.
“We played great, we left everything out on the field tonight,” Columbia coach Hank Proctor said. “It’s tough to go out in a shootout but that’s the way soccer is. I think we showed them that we’re just as equal as they are.”
The teams met less than two weeks ago in the regular-season finale with Elyria Catholic winning 4-0.
Elyria Catholic goalkeeper Marty Conroy made eight saves in the match but none were as big as the one he made on David Wos’ penalty kick to put the Panthers in front in the shootout.
“I knew my teammates would make their penalty kick so I knew I had to come up big and stop at least one and we’d win,” Conroy said.
All four Elyria Catholic penalty kicks — taken by Saddler, Liam O’Holloran, Jeremy Kelling and Medves — were successful. Columbia’s first two kickers — Zelinsky and Viktor Thrane — were also successful. After Wos’ unsuccessful kick, Joe Palmer shot his penalty kick over the crossbar and the Panthers rushed the field in jubilation.
However, without a pair of outstanding defensive plays by Palmer earlier the match, deflecting a shot away from an open goal and chasing down Saddler on a breakaway in the opening minute of second half, the match might have never come down to penalty kicks.
Medves said the key to his team’s penalty-kick success was just staying calm.
“Coach told us to just go out there and high five each other and stay loose and relaxed,” he said. “It’s exhausting but we’ve practiced this situation all year and we were prepared.”
Elyria Catholic scored first, in the 16th minute, on a Gage Jarvis goal that was assisted by Kelling. In the 33rd minute, Columbia answered as sophomore Laszlo Szabados broke free down the left sideline and put the game-tying goal past a diving Conroy.
After the match, Szabados summed up his team’s feelings after nearly pulling off the upset.
“It was so close it is indescribable,” he said. “It’s so close you can taste it almost but it’s just out of reach. It just wasn’t in the cards for us tonight.”
Elyria Catholic 2, Columbia 1
(Elyria Catholic won 4-2 on penalty kicks)
- Goals: (C) Szabados (33rd minute); (EC) Jarvis (16th minute)
- Assists: (EC) Kelling
- Saves: (C) Carder, 16; (EC) Conroy, 8
- Shots: Columbis 9, EC 17
- Corner kicks: Columbia 2, EC 11
- Fouls: Columbia 16, EC 13
- Offsides: EC 3
- Yellow Cards: (C) Palmer (62nd minute); (EC) Spaetzel, C. (59th minute)
- Halftime: 1-1
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or email@example.com.