Altawil’s goal lifts Howland in district soccer marathon.
Tigers, Bulldogs wage scoreless marathon
By BOB ETTINGER
Howland freshman Gabe Altawil had a moment of indecision.
It wasn’t so much that he didn’t know what to do, it was more that he tried to think a bit too much.
The midfielder delivered the game-winning penalty kick as the Tigers downed Lakeview, 1-0, in a shootout to decide the Division II district championship at Bo Rein Stadium on Saturday night.
“I wasn’t sure if I should stick with my normal choice, which I did, thank God, or if I should change and go left because I had seen the keeper had been going right. Thank God I went right. I won it for my team. I won it for my seniors. I didn’t want it to be their last game. I’m so happy!”
The Tigers (16-2-1) will play Aurora in a Division II regional semifinal at Ravenna at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.
“We’ve played [teams from that area], but the problem is it’s a couple months ago now,” Howland coach Brian Stiles said. “We’re going to have to spend the next couple of days just refocusing ourselves on Cleveland-style soccer. It tends to be a lot more tactical and it’s difficult to prepare for because don’t see a lot of it.”
Altawil’s goal was the only difference between Howland and the Bulldogs (17-2) after 110 minutes of game action and six penalty kicks.
“Any time it’s 0-0 through, what was it, a hundred and however many minutes?” Lakeview coach Bryan Phillips said, “their goalie made probably five or six just outstanding saves. Our goalie came up and caught everything he needed to. The one save in double-overtime was outstanding. It is what it is. It’s frustating that any team has to lose a game like this.
“It was a great high school soccer game. It went to, what, seven penalty takers? I told these guys they have nothing to be ashamed of. It what it is. They’re all champions in my eyes. We’re going to lose the same way we win and that’s with dignity. We’ll hold our heads high.”
Stiles couldn’t agree with Phillips more.
“I think we could’ve played 150 minutes and I’m not sure we could’ve solved the winner of that game,” Stiles said. “Both teams played with all their heart and both keepers made some remarkable saves throughout and even in the shootout they did a tremendous job to get to the seventh shooter. That’s unusual in soccer.”
It was a tough way to close the season for the Bulldogs.
“They’re disappointed,” Phillips said. “They aren’t used to losing. They don’t feel like they were outplayed. Not to take anything away from Howland, it was a great game, but you’re more upset if you feel like outplayed them and lost. Penalty kicks are an awful way to decide a game.”
Tigers goalkeeper Michael Schwartz and his Lakeview counterpart, Justin Grove, matched each other shot for shot through two halves and two extra periods. Each keeper finished with 12 saves.
“He matched pretty well,” Schwartz said. “He’s a really good keeper for coming from football. I respect him for that.”
Said Grove: “Coming into this, we knew he was a great goalie and I had to step up. I didn’t have the best season I could’ve. I let a lot through during the regular season, but it’s playoffs, I knew I needed to step up.”