Boardman tops Canfield, avenges early season loss
BOARDMAN — There is nothing like playing your arch-rival to get a team motivated. Especially when league titles are at stake.
The Boardman Spartans boy soccer team got a bit of revenge on the Canfield Cardinals with a 2-0 victory Tuesday night at Spartan Stadium after the Cardinals got past the Spartans 1-0 just a few weeks ago. It was also a nice bounce-back match for the Spartans after dropping a 2-1 contest to state-ranked Crestview last Saturday.
“Canfield is a great team and they were the one team that got us earlier in the year,” Spartans’ coach Eric Simione explained the big motivation for the match. “It meant a lot, a lot.”
The Spartans improved to 11-2-2 on the season, 6-1 in the All-American Conference. The Cardinals fall to 8-4-2 overall, 4-3 in the league.
“These guys all know each other personally. Our guys know their guys, but when they get out on the field they want to beat each other,” Cardinals’ coach Brady Clark said. “We got them at home 1-0 a couple of weeks ago, so they obviously wanted to get even with us. They are our biggest rival right now.”
With the victory, the Spartans have an opportunity on Thursday night to win the All-American Conference title outright. They will host the Howland Tigers who also carry a 6-1 league mark.
“We had a little bit of a cushion because we could have tied and still played for the championship on Thursday, but it’s nice to go into that game with Howland with both of us at 6-1,” Simione said. “We said all year long that if we want to win this, it has to go through Howland. So we are excited about that opportunity.”
“We knew if we wanted to get the title by ourselves and not share it, we had to come out here tonight and win this game,” Spartans senior forward Cole Congson said. “We didn’t have the best week last week, but we came out here and we stepped it up and everybody played their best.”
In a hard-fought, defensive battle, the Spartans were able to reach the back of the net at the 15:45 mark when Congson booted the ball to the front of the net on a free-kick. The Cardinals’ goaltender knocked the ball down, but the Spartans’ Ian McGavin was in the perfect spot to slam the ball into the goal.
“I knew free kicks would be a big part of our attack,” Congson stated. “I just put it over the wall so he (goalkeeper) couldn’t see it until the last second. He was able to get a hand on it, but he wasn’t able to clean it up.”
“He placed a nice hard ball in there,” Simione added. “McGavin was just in the perfect place to follow up. He has been there so many times this year for us.”
The Spartans would put more pressure on the Cardinals at the 65:58 mark when goalkeeper Carson Essad was able to forward the ball to Congson streaking down the left sideline. Congson never let up and buried a kick past the Cardinal goalkeeper to make it a 2-0 contest.
“I yelled for the ball and Carson knew I was gone. He knows I’m going for goal, and he threw a perfect ball and I ran on it, I passed a few players, and just slid it in,” Congson described the goal.
“I was worried that Cole was going to pull up, because when Cole gets the ball, a lot of times only Cole knows what he is going to do with it,” Simione remarked with a grin. “But he went straight in with that one and tapped it to the left around the keeper and finished it in the back of the net.”
The Cardinals will close out their regular season this Thursday when they host Austintown Fitch.