The Cardinals outlasted Poland, 1-0, to stay unbeaten at 4-0.
By CHUCK HOUSTEAU
CANFIELD -- After battling to a scoreless tie for over 73 minutes, the physically contested soccer game between Metro Athletic Conference rivals Poland and Canfield was decided on a penalty kick.
Kyle Reese drilled a 15-yard shot from in front of the goal into the back of the net past a diving Poland goalkeeper Thomas Lange, to give the Cardinals a 1-0 victory Tuesday night at Canfield.
Reese lined up the 15-yard shot after his teammate, David Konotz, was tackled in front of the goal by a Poland defender with 6:38 left in the game.
Canfield (4-0-0, 3-0-0) then held off a late Poland (0-2-1, 0-1-1) charge to capture the early season MAC encounter.
"This was real physical," said Canfield coach Phil Simone. "It's always an intense game between Poland and Canfield. That's expected."
Penalty kick clincher
What wasn't expected perhaps was the penalty kick that was called late in the game and decided the outcome.
"I disagreed with the call," said first-year Poland coach Brad Sackella. "The call wasn't really consistent with the rest of the game.
& quot;We're a young team and we played the physical game well against a great team. Other than that play, we're really happy with our performance."
Simone saw the play as a clear violation.
"I think [David] Kanotz got tackled just as he was setting up for the shot," Simone said. "Just when he was about to let it go he got shoulder tackled."
Reese line up his shot and calmly kicked in the game winner.
Up until that point the contest was a game of contrasting styles.
Canfield pressed the action most of the time and took a total of 15 shots.
Reese along with David and John Kanotz, Mario Nigro and Tim Hutchinson kept the game on the offensive side of the midfield stripe.
Poland relies on goalie. defense
Poland, meanwhile, relied on the strong play of goalkeeper Lange and defenders Bradley Mullis, Paul Rogers and Kevin Gargasz.
Offensively, Poland managed just five shots on goal.
"We wanted to set the tempo," Simone said.
"We like to attack and we did but we just couldn't get the one pass through their defense.
"They played well back there."
Nearly all six of Lange's saves were of the spectacular variety while Poland's back line of defense was stellar all night.
"We are young up front so we've changed our style of play this year," Sackella said. "Most of our seniors are strong on defense so we want to protect our goal as our younger offensive players develop."
Poland got off one late shot by Ryan Storkel with about three minutes left but it sailed high and wide left and the game ended in the Canfield side of the field.
Although the coaches disagreed on the call that eventually decided the game one thing was certainly clear -- the rematch should be just as exciting.