Howland, Boardman boys soccer teams play to scoreless draw
By DAN HINER
With 55 seconds left, Boardman’s Dom Barber lined up for a free kick from 20-yards out. Barber’s kick didn’t make it through the line of defenders, and the Boardman and Howland boys soccer teams settled for a 0-0 draw on Thursday night at Spartan Stadium in Boardman.
“[Howland] dropped everybody back quickly and we didn’t have enough people up to play it quickly,” Boardman head coach Eric Simione said. “Maybe we should have just tried to put it on frame rather than play it to somebody.
“They’re 16- 17-year-old kids, they gotta make that quick decision and they’re looking for what they practice, not necessarily what they have to do at the moment. I can’t fault them for that. That’s just the way it goes.”
Both teams had opportunities to score throughout the game.
Howland almost scored on a header with 5:34 remaining in the first half and almost scored on another header two minutes into the second.
“We were close. We were knocking on the door there,” Howland head coach Brian Stiles said. “We’re still trying to figure some things out at the top.
“I was happy with as many chances as we got and I was happy with the ball movement for the most part. Eventually those goals will start to go in.”
Boardman (4-2-1, 1-1-1 All-American Conference Red Tier) could have taken a 1-0 lead in the opening minutes of the game, but the Spartans’ goal was waved off by an offsides penalty. Tommy Fryda had a shot from the left side of the net with 16:30 remaining, but his kick went wide and out of bounds.
“Both defenses played exceptionally well,” Simione said. “A lot of hard work back there, a lot of covering of each other on defense.”
Howland (5-0-2, 2-0-1 AAC Red Tier) has allowed just two goals this season, and that didn’t change thanks to goalkeepers Donato Marsco and Lucas Brill.
Marsco got the start and finished with a save. Brill entered the game in the second half and finished with a save.
Boardman goalie Egan Hare finished with two saves.
The rivalry between the Spartans and the Tigers has been heated in the past, but the referees made sure the game didn’t get out of hand on Thursday.
Boardman and Howland combined to receive three yellow cards in the second half. Pano Gentis received a card for Howland while Trevor Boggess and Ryan Johnston received cards for the Spartans.
During halftime the refs wanted to cut down on some of the talking from the players.
“This game has gotten heated over the years,” Simione said. “There was a time a couple years ago — about three or four years ago — where there were twice as many yellows and even a couple reds.
Boardman and Howland tend to get after each other a little bit. And sometimes, maybe a little too much.”
For the Spartans, a tie means the program is making progress.
“This is a team [Howland], that we average giving up about three, or four goals to them,” Simione said. “For us to hold them to zero I think is a real positive achievement on our defense’s side.
“We had some opportunities. We just have to work on getting through that back line of theirs and get something in. But that’s why we play each other twice. We’ll see how the second one goes.”