CUYAHOGA FALLS: It has been a difficult year for a young and inexperienced Walsh Jesuit boys soccer team.
The Warriors have lost several one-goal matches and have a rarity — a losing record.
On a gorgeous cool fall Saturday afternoon, the Warriors showed that they might be turning things around just in time for the state playoffs.
One alert play and a little luck allowed the host Warriors (6-8-2, 4-0-0) to defeat previously undefeated Archbishop Hoban 2-0 at the Warriors Soccer Complex.
In addition to ending their rival’s unbeaten record on the final match of the regular season, the Warriors won their second consecutive North Coast League title in their second season in the league.
“This was our No. 1 goal,” Walsh coach John Kissner said. “It was a very important game for us. We have some momentum now with three straight shutouts.
“Things are starting to fall into place for us. Injured players are coming back for us; we are just about back to full strength and we just have to keep things going.”
That stretch includes 1-0 wins over Columbus St. Francis DeSales and Mentor Lake Catholic.
The Walsh defense stifled Hoban, especially in the second half. Kissner credited junior Max Eicher, who has played center back the past four matches, junior Ben Kunkel and center back Mark Vanzo.
Sophomore Mike Parianos, who scored his first goal of the season, believes this is the beginning of some good fortune for the Warriors.
“It means everything going into the playoffs on this high note. I don’t think anyone will be as confident as we are after these past few games,” said Parianos, who suffered an ankle injury early in the season.
The Knights had opportunities to score, but were thwarted, especially in the first half thanks to brilliant play by Walsh’s defense.
Defender Ian Horning kept Hoban off the scoreboard with a spectacular save 10 minutes into the match on what appeared to be a Knights goal. Horning somehow kicked and cleared the ball before it could go over the goal line
Parianos broke the scoreless tie with a 25-yard shot with 36:17 remaining in the match, ripping a long shot after he came up with a loose ball.
“I was looking for a dirt ball to a teammate, but they closed it down quickly. So I faced the ball up toward the goal and put it straight in. I had the exact same shot in warm-ups,” Parianos said. “Getting that goal and getting ahead was important because we’ve been behind in games earlier in the year.”
The clinching goal came off a free kick by senior captain Victor Trifiro, whose “lucky” kick curved into the left upper corner of the net with 27:11 remaining in the second half.
“Honestly, I was setting up something. It was going to the back post and I was a little lucky and I’m not mad about it,” Trifiro said. “It feels good to win, but we don’t feel good about ending their unbeaten season; it is not personal because we are all friends. We look at it as positive for us.”
The loss was tough for the Knights (12-1-1), who handled the situation graciously despite much disappointment.
“I want to congratulate Walsh on the win. They came out and played hungry,” Hoban coach Tavi Muresan said. “We will move on and look for strong [play] in the playoffs.”
Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps.