The Tigers advanced to play Green in a district final Thursday at Green.
By DOUG CHAPIN
HOWLAND -- Breakaway opportunities are rare on a muddy soccer field. In big games, it is important to capitalize when those chances occur.
Howland High's Joe Prezioso did just that Monday, converting a fine pass from Ian Jones into the winning goal in a 2-1 victory for the Tigers over Kent Roosevelt in a Division I District semifinal.
Thursday at 7 p.m., second-seeded Howland (15-1-2) will play seventh-seeded Green, which ousted top-seeded North Canton Hoover, 1-0, in a shootout.
Howland will play Green in a district final Thursday at 7 p.m. at Green.
Jones led a 3-on-2 breakaway for the Tigers, waiting until the last second to pass to Prezioso on the right side. The junior forward rolled the ball just inside the far post with 16:13 remaining.
The other two goals scored came off of set plays, as is usually the case on a muddy field.
"On a field this sloppy it's very difficult to get open and get a good shot off," Howland coach George Stevens said. "So we look to set plays and try to get opportunities off set plays."
Byler scores first goal
Howland's Zack Byler scored the first goal less than two minutes into the second half. Jones dropped a corner kick in front of the goal and Byler put the ball in the net following a short scramble.
Kent (9-6-3) countered with 28:41 remaining, scoring off of its own set play. Senior Clay Laubert took a free kick from near the touch line about 10 yards off the end line. He put the ball right on the back post where fellow senior Kyle Stuver headed it home.
Stevens said he was confident the Tigers would be able to bounce back against the two-time defending district champions.
"I thought it would give them a little momentum and it did, but our guys have been able all season to stay focused and not lose their composure," he said. "We have an excellent group of seniors and they try to keep all of our players playing our game. We try to control the ball and pass it and that's very difficult in these conditions."
Despite the conditions, Howland applied good pressure throughout the game, recording 14 shots to six for Roosevelt, and earning a half-dozen corner kicks.
Other scoring chances
The Tigers had at least three other potential scoring opportunities. Jones had a good chance to make it 2-0 about four minutes after Byler's goal, but his shot while being pressured by a defender hit the side of the net.
With about 12 minutes left in the first half, Sumit Kovoor's shot from about 10 yards away had the keeper beaten, but Laubert came from nowhere to deflect the shot away.
At the 17-minute mark of the first half, Eric Albani made a nice move to get free momentarily in the penalty area, but lost the ball when he was taken down. The Tigers argued for a penalty kick, but instead Albani was shown the yellow card for dissent.
Tigers goalkeeper Paul Burley came off his line to preserve the 2-1 Howland lead, making a big stop at the top of the penalty area with about 14 minutes remaining.
The Tigers have reached the district level for a fifth straight season.
However, during that stretch Howland advanced to the district final only in 2004, losing in overtime to Cardinal Mooney, 2-1, in Division I. A year ago, the Tigers lost 4-1 to Hoover in a semifinal contest.
Stevens said the Tigers won't change anything at this point of the season, neither for the field conditions nor the magnitude of the game. "I think it is a mistake to try to change our style of play. We are better off just letting our kids play."
CORTLAND -- Fifth-seeded Ursuline (9-7-2) shut down second-seeded Lakeview, 4-1, to advance to a Div. II girls district final against Mooney on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Canfield.
The Irish defense stunned the Bulldogs by keeping them scoreless until the 77th minute.
The defense led by captains Geralyn Tondo-Steele and Jessalin Modarelli along with Leanne Jordon and Elizabeth Emanuel made it an easy night for goalkeeper Jolanta Carkido who made nine saves.
Katelyn Tondo-Steele scored two goals while Katie Young and Kaila Buckley scored one each.