Coventry came up with some much-needed offense and cruised past Springfield 4-1 at home Tuesday night, setting up a rematch next week in the first round of a sectional tournament.
This was essentially a dress rehearsal for the postseason opener when these two teams will meet again next Tuesday night.
In this first round, the Comets (7-7-1, 4-2-1) bested Springfield (9-4-2, 4-3) with a burst of offense that coach Aaron Rose hadn’t seen in a while.
“We needed it,” he said. “We’ve been struggling on offense but outshooting our opponents. It was nice to get one in the net. We really needed it.”
Coventry’s Jordan Khamvongsouk opened the scoring in the 35th minute with a strike from about 15 yards out. Less than three minutes later, Springfield senior midfielder Jeremiah Campbell equalized it on a breakaway in which goalkeeper Ross Carr (three saves) came out of the net. Campbell dribbled around him and tapped it in at just the perfect angle.
Coventry netted three unanswered goals from there, the first by John Hoover, who dribbled to his left and fired a shot just under the cross bar with 14 minutes left in the first half.
Springfield had several promising scoring chances while down but could never convert. Late in the first half, the Spartans had two fairly open shots. One was stopped by Carr, who slid far away from the net and couldn’t control the rebound. The second was blocked on a knee save by defender Luke Bedford, who was the only defender in net.
Forward Dakotah Pinkus made it 3-1 with less than 20 seconds before halftime when he corralled a ball the Spartans couldn’t clear and scored. Casey Prater added a late goal to seal the victory.
Springfield coach Mario Mattioli says he didn’t see a team playing as one unit on Tuesday night.
“We didn’t play our game,” he said. You gotta work as a team and get the ball moving. They took it to us and we didn’t have a team effort. We didn’t deserve to win.”
With the game out of reach, frustrations flared and the play quickly turned physical. Yellow cards were issued late in the game for Springfield, playing on Senior Night. Mattioli is fine with the emotion and the physical play if it’s within the parameters of the game.
“The game will be physical but you have to play within the rules,” he said. “You still have to play soccer. I won’t go down that road.”
In the Comets’ eyes, this was some form of redemption for their own loss on Senior Night, a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Lake Center Christian a few nights ago.
“We did have a chip on our shoulder,” Rose said. “We knew Springfield would come out aggressive in the second half down 3-1 and make it physical. And they’re a good team and no disrespect to Springfield, but [we’re also thinking about] Manchester, Marlington and Alliance.”
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.