The rain was relentless Saturday afternoon at Archbishop Hoban’s Richard A. Dowed Field, as was the Knights’ offensive attack.
Hoban outshot Tallmadge 15-3 to defeat the Blue Devils 2-0 and capture a Kent Division II sectional championship.
“The quality of the game was influenced by this rain,” Hoban boys soccer coach Tavi Muresan said. “For that reason I am very happy with the result.”
The Knights (13-3-1) set the tone early offensively, controlling the ball in Blue Devils territory for the majority of the first half and peppering the net with shot attempts.
Senior midfielder and offensive captain Jordan Sarver set up the Knights attack and was a main player in getting Hoban good scoring looks.
The first close shot on goal for Hoban was off the foot of Sarver at the 25-minute mark of the first half, but Blue Devils senior keeper Chris Roy made a nice save, deflecting the high kick away. Roy, quite tall for a goalkeeper, had a nice match for the Blue Devils (9-6-3), making 10 saves as he was under duress the entire match.
“We didn’t have that finish moment for a while because when we created a good opportunity to score we hit the ball high,” Muresan said.
The Knights’ relentless attack eventually got them on the board with 15:32 remaining in the first half off a corner kick.
Sarver took the corner and crossed it low into the middle of the box. The ball bounced around in the box for a second before junior midfielder Christopher Thomas saw an open lane and took the shot.
“Christopher is a very smart kid,” Muresan said. “He followed my rules. In a situation like that you need to play the ball on the ground quick because the goalkeeper cannot do anything. We execute all the corners low to take advantage of the field.”
Coming out in the second half, the Blue Devils seemed to become more aggressive on the offensive attack, but were still unable to get find good shooting lanes as senior defensive captain Ben Naragon, as well as Christian Salamon and Jacob Brown shut down the middle of the field.
The score remained 1-0 until Ben Easton found the back of the net with 4:55 remaining in the second half off an assist by senior forward Michael Londa to give the Knights an insurance goal that sealed the sectional final victory. The Knights move on to face Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy in a district semifinal.
“For us, the goal of the season was to win the North Coast League,” Muresan said. “And now we make another goal for the playoffs. We cannot forget they beat us last year here so now it’s our turn there to win a game.”