ROCKY RIVER — With a fast start and two early goals, Elyria Catholic rolled to its fourth straight Division III district soccer championship Saturday afternoon.
The third-ranked Panthers got goals in the first 20 minutes from juniors Liam O’Halloran and Gage Jarvis on their way to a 5-0 victory over Lutheran West at Alumni Stadium.
It was also the fourth straight district crown for senior midfielder Michael Saddler, who has been playing on the EC varsity since he was a freshman.
“I’m ecstatic, it feels great to get the fourth one,” Saddler said. “Naturally, I couldn't have done it without my team and they played really hard today. They’ve played hard all season and I have to thank them for that. From here on out, we’re going to use that as motivation.”
Elyria Catholic (15-2-1) advances to the Sweet 16 in Ashland. At 7 p.m. Wednesday, the Panthers will take on either second-ranked Mansfield Christian or No. 6 Liberty-Benton of the Findlay area at Ashland High. Mansfield Christian and Liberty-Benton squared off Saturday night in the Tiffin district final.
The Panthers got two goals each from Jarvis and senior Ryan Medves. Medves scored both in the second half, one in the 71st minute with Saddler assisting and the second in the 80th minute on the rebound after a shot by sophomore Ricky Washington.
Jarvis nailed one in each half. He scored the first in the 19th minute with a left-footer just inside the right goalpost. His second came just after halftime on a rebound in the 65th minute. It put the Panthers up 3-0.
“On the first goal, I was almost lucky,” Jarvis said. “Their defender headed it back, and I had a nice left-footed volley into the bottom corner. On the second one, it got hit into the box and I just in, hit a half-volley and put it away.”
The Panthers’ defense – featuring Luke Janosik, Spencer Fetcko, Patrick Orsagos and Medves, among several others – was again strong.
Their midfielders and defenders allowed the Longhorns (12-7-0) just three total shots, only one on goal. That came on a free kick by senior tri-captain Taylor Neumann in the 15th minute, and required a nice save by Panthers keeper Marty Conroy.
O’Halloran hit the only goal EC really needed. In the 15th minute, he scored on a long run down the right flank, topped off by the goal after he deked Longhorns keeper Jacob Pshock out of position.
That was uncharacteristic of Pshock. Without him in goal, the score could have been much more one-sided. Of the five saves credited to him, perhaps only one was routine. He also moved off his line several times to break up EC crossing chances and to pick off corner kicks.
“I’m just very excited,” Panthers coach Attila Csiszar said. “The boys played great, the momentum was there and the excitement was there. They did not come out flat, the first half was great and the second half was great. We try to attack in the first five minutes and put the ball in the net early. They played a complete game.”
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or soccer@bobdaniels. info.
Elyria Catholic 5, Lutheran West 0
GOALS: (EC) Gage Jarvis 2 (19th, 65th minutes), Ryan Medves (71st, 80th), Liam O’Halloran (15th).
ASSISTS: (EC) Saddler, Washington.
SAVES: (LW) Jacob Pshock 5; (EC) Marty Conroy 1; James Rickard 1.
SHOTS: Lutheran West 3; Elyria Catholic 17.
SHOTS ON GOAL: Lutheran West 1; Elyria Catholic 10.
CORNER KICKS: Elyria Catholic 3.
GOAL KICKS: Lutheran West 8; Elyria Catholic 3.
OFFSIDE: Lutheran West 1; Elyria Catholic 4.
HANDBALLS: Lutheran West1; Elyria Catholic 1.
FOULS: Lutheran West 5; Elyria Catholic 11.
YELLOW CARDS: (EC) Saddler (15th minute), assistant coach Taylor (47th), O’Halloran (50th).
HALF: Elyria Catholic, 2-0.