Hale’s goal lifts Canfield over Boardman
By ERIC FORTUNE
Trying to beat a team three times in a season is never easy or ideal.
That became Canfield’s task when the Cardinals drew Boardman in a Division I boys soccer sectional semifinal.
They had already beat the Spartans by a combined 7-0 in two earlier matchups, but the Cardinals had to overcome an own goal less than six minutes into the game before Hunter Hale’s goal with 8:44 to play gave Canfield that third win, 3-2, on Wednesday night.
The win sent the Cardinals into a sectional final at Massillon Jackson at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
“We’ve been talking since we got the draw against them that it’s very difficult to beat a team three times in the season,” Canfield coach Phil Simone said. “I knew it wasn’t going to be a cakewalk. We knew they would give us a tough game. I do think they came out harder than us. It showed. Luckily, our guys kept their composure. They kept working hard and found a way to win it.”
The own goal set up what would a much more demanding night for the Cardinals (10-6-1) this time around as two players mis-timed their reactions to a ball kicked by Boardman’s Tommy Fryda.
“We put it in for them,” Simone said. “It was an own goal. That was a communication breakdown between them. They both kind of went for it and we miss-hit it and put it in our own goal.”
The game stayed 1-0 over the next 20 minutes despite the Cardinals controlling the tempo.
“They had a lot of numbers back,” Simone said. “They were trying to counter-attack and release somebody and catch us off-guard. We had a couple communication breakdowns that they capitalized on. Those couple of little mistakes hurt us.
“When they build a defensive wall like that in the back, it’s very tough to get through it sometimes. We did find our way sometimes. We didn’t finish as well as we could have maybe. Their goalkeeper played well in the first half.”
Boardman coach Eric Simione felt his team needed to change their formations slightly to match up better with the Cardinals.
“We haven’t matched up well with Canfield,” Simione said. “We played the same type of game, we just had a little better focus tonight. It’s a tournament game. You have to step up.”
The Cardinals tied the game at 1 when RJ Thomas put it in with 13:33 left in the half on an assist from Justin Montazeri. Thomas’ second goal of the night gave Canfield a 2-1 advantage with 32:30 left in the second half.
Boardman (6-9-2) tied the game at 2 on Trevor Boggess’s goal with 23:50 left.
Simone felt that his team needed to keep its composure down the stretch as the Cardinals had missed some earlier opportunities to separate themselves from the Spartans.
“Sometimes games are tied and they become a little frantic feeling they have to score right now when there is 15 to 20 minutes left,” Simone said. “We needed to keep our patience to work the ball and get a good shot.”
That good shot came when Montazeri’s pass found Hale in the perfect position to break the tie.
“I saw him coming down,” Hale said. “I was around half-field just sprinting as hard as I could. I saw it roll through. I got lucky, hit off of it and it went back side.
“It was a perfect ball through. It was right on the line and cut it top of the box. It was perfect.”