By TIM CLEVELAND
If a tie is like kissing your sister, the Austintown Fitch boys soccer team could be tired of wiping away lipstick after playing to a third draw in five games.
“This early in the year, we’re actually playing quite a few young players in key positions,” said Fitch coach Brian Stiles said after Thursday’s 1-1 tie against Howland. “Ties aren’t an absolute horrible thing for us.
“We’re still struggling to make that last play that we need to get over the top,” Stiles said. “It’ll get there.”
Fitch (2-0-3) took advantage of a huge Howland error to score the game’s first goal. Tigers senior Dominic Mariano attempted to clear the ball from deep in his own end, but played the ball back toward his goal instead of in the other direction.
The ball went right to Fitch’s Terry Worrell, who calmly drilled a shot past goalkeeper Kurt Kuszmaul with 23:14 left in the first half.
“The defense was flat there,” Worrell said. “I just took my opportunity and ripped the ball and it went in the back of the net.”
Howland coach George Stevens said his team didn’t get down after allowing the bad goal.
“It was an unlucky pass,” Stevens said. “They intercepted the ball and [Worrell] had a really nice shot. I don’t think so, no.
“Both teams were playing really well,” Stevens said. “It was an unlucky play on our part but it wasn’t necessarily all that bad a play. It was just they stepped into our passing lane and fired a shot off.”
It would have been easy for the Tigers (1-1-1) to let the bad goal crush them, but the Tigers kept up their attack on the Falcons. Adam Mazey hit a corner kick right in front of the goal, forcing Falcons keeper Nicholas Sheely to make the save.
Fitch had a chance to put the game away late in the second half. With less than 12 minutes to play, Worrell fed a pass through the Howland defense to Nathen Bowlen for what appeared to be a good scoring chance. But an offsides flag went up to snuff out the opportunity.
Facing defeat, Howland scored with 7:07 to play as Alex Tvaroch snuck in behind the Fitch defense to beat Sheely to tie the game.
SDLqOur left mid took the ball down, beat one defender,” Stevens said. “He got a nice shot off. Very fortunate to get it on the far side of the keeper into the side netting.”
Stiles said a defensive breakdown led to the goal.
“We got a little bit out of shape in the back,” Stiles said. “A little bit of inexperience back there. We’ll learn from it and we’ll get better from it.”