Pasternak, Lakeview storm past Southeast to district final
By John Bassetti
Junior captain Matt Pasternak scored a career-high four goals, while Dylan Brown, Austin Olbrych, Anthony Sember and Eric Rohrabaugh scored one apiece, but it was Brown who gave the signal to those on the bench as time wound down to “Tag ‘em and bag ‘em.”
His cry for the Bulldogs (15-1-2) to collect their gear came at the conclusion of Lakeview’s 8-1 win over Southeast in a Division II district semifinal at Hubbard High’s Memorial Stadium on Wednesday night.
“It’s the greatest feeling,” said Pasternak, who was among those on the sidelines in the final 10 minutes of the contest. “It’s the first time I ever had four goals and to have it happen in a district semifinal is even more special,” said the district player of the year. “It’s great for the team because it raises our confidence level and makes everyone play better,” he said, adding that it’s not just himself in the spotlight, but those who can score off of the ball, too.
“When they came off the foot, it felt great,” Pasternak said of his goals, all of which were from a 20-yard distance. “They were left-footed rips into the back of the goal and they felt great.”
Pasternak commented on his team’s mindset entering the game, its second in three nights.
“Our strategy was to come in and play the ball fast on the ground,” he said. “We’re fast on turf, so our goal was to straighten our forwards up top and just pitch it past the goalie, get rebounds and score.”
The game was headed for a shutout until Adam McElfresh’s free kick from 20 yards out with 13:52 remaining went over Lakeview goalie Jackson Gagne’s head and out of his reach to put the Pirates (12-5-2) on the board.
Lakeview coach Nate Mailach said he wouldn’t call the victory facile.
“We came out fired up during warmups,” he said. “I knew it was going to be a good night by the way we were shooting the ball during pre-game. We got some very skilled players and they got loose tonight and what Matt did in the first half was something from another planet.”
Mailach said that Pasternak’s position can’t be pinpointed.
“He can play wherever he wants. We let him roam since he was a freshman. If he gets open and gets that shot, he’s unstoppable and the Southeast goal keeper saw it a few times tonight.”
Defensively, Lakeview did its job.
“We got a great effort,” Mailach said. “We knew No. 22 [Kenny Dillon] was a dangerous striker and No. 21 [Colton Harsh] could score, too, so we had to make sure we couldn’t let those two turn and get space on us.”
Southeast coach Rick Harsh realized that his team was out-manned.
“We knew we were coming up against the No. 1 team in the district and we knew they were talented and they had good team speed to strike the ball from anywhere on their offensive third,” he said. “We knew we’d have to play the game of our collective careers to hang with them. I think they caught us off guard a few times with some long shots, but I’m proud of my boys because we were a seventh seed. Winning 12 games this season was a big turnaround for our program.”