MEDINA: Just when it all appeared to be slipping away, an unlikely source delivered the play that saved Medina’s season Saturday.
Lauren Rafie cashed in a rebound past Copley goalkeeper Beth Moore in sudden-death overtime and Medina earned a 3-2 soccer victory for the Brunswick Division I district title at Memorial Stadium.
A hard cross by Alex Root was deflected by a diving Moore, leaving a wide-open goal for Rafie who rammed it into the back of the net with 1:38 left in the scheduled 15-minute extra period.
Both Rafie and Root are sophomore nonstarters for Medina (12-5-2), which will face the Westlake/North Olmsted winner in a regional semifinal at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Rocky River.
“We like to try to run teams in the ground and play a number of kids, and you saw that,” Medina coach Doug Coreno said. “The girl who got the assist and the girl who got the goal didn’t even start the overtime period.
“They both come off the bench and make an immediate impact, so I’m very proud of those two.”
Trailing 2-0, Copley (9-8-2) scored both of its goals in the final 4:27 of regulation, the last with 42.6 seconds left on a 10-yard shot by sophomore Brook Brenner to send it to the extra period.
Momentum was clearly on the Indians’ side but Medina began to take control of the midfield before Rafie ended it.
“I’m like in shock right now,” Rafie said. “I can’t stop smiling and I’m so excited. Alex Root crossed it and the goalie barely touched it. I just followed it in. I was actually kind of scared I was going to miss it but the goal was wide open so it was like, OK, I gotta make this.”
Rafie said it was her third goal of the season. Junior forward Nicole Bennett scored the first two for the Bees Saturday and had six in three tournament games.
A relatively uneventful 1-0 match changed dramatically with 17:09 left in the second half. A collision between Medina’s Elizabeth Ash and Copley’s Makenzie Mozik left Mozik flat on the ground for about 25 minutes.
A rescue squad vehicle was summoned and transported her to the hospital, though the injury didn’t appear to be serious, according to Indians coach Wally Senk, who said Mozik felt some pain in her back.
Then confusion following Copley’s substitution resulted in an open goal that Bennett promptly took advantage of just 24 seconds later for a 2-0 lead. But what appeared to be a clincher turned out to be anything but.
A 22-yard blast off a restart by Copley junior Anna Haverchak made it 2-1 with 4:27 left and the Indians continued to attack the goal before Brenner’s tying score sent Copley fans into a frenzy.
“I thought we controlled a bigger part of the second half,” Senk said. “Every time we play Medina, they seem to get one early. The second part of the first half and the second half I thought we dominated the match. We made a mistake after Makenzie got injured and it cost us the second goal.”
Copley had a 7-2 advantage in shots on goal in the second half, after Medina led in that category 8-2 in the first half. Medina had defeated Copley 3-0 in the season opener on Aug. 20.
Copley made it to the district final for the first time since 2000.
“The bottom line is they worked so hard for what they got,” Senk said. “The girls really persevered throughout the season. It’s difficult when you’re so close to find words to explain to them why it didn’t happen for them. But hats off to Medina. It’s a big tradition here.
“What I said to our seniors is, from now on this is the norm. They set a precedent today. They built a tradition to what the expectations are every year.”
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