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Falcons work together in 3-0 win

Correspondent photo / Scott Lendak Evan Sahli (#8), Austintown Fitch sophomore clears the ball from in front of the goal in the Falcons’ 3-0 victory over Canfield on Tuesday. Also pictured is Falcon junior Alec Herman (#9).

AUSTINTOWN — The Austintown Fitch boys soccer Falcons have gotten off to a hot start this season, and Tuesday’s 3-0 win against the Canfield Cardinals further cemented the theme of the season thus far: togetherness.

“Our main focus for this season has been sticking together,” Falcons coach Tracey Direnzo said. “We know that when we start playing like individuals out there, that’s when we break down and stop doing the little things right. When we play together as a family, that’s when we take care of business.”

The first half was evenly played, as the Cardinals fought to stay in the game against a physical Falcons team. Canfield coach Christian Silvestri was happy with his team’s effort despite the loss.

“I actually thought our effort was good,” Silvestri said. “We have a young team and we are playing hard every game. Unfortunately, we haven’t had the shots and opportunities we’d like, but we are continuing to get better.”

The Cardinals came out strong, briefly putting the Falcons on their heels. When sophomore Fitch defender Dylan Morton made an acrobatic save right before the ball entered the goal, the momentum shifted to the Falcons.

Correspondent photo / Scott Lendak Zack Semlani (10) of Austintown Fitch battles with Zach Ahmed (5) of Canfield for possession of the ball Tuesday night.

“That play really showed our togetherness,” Direnzo said. “We are always there to back each other up. When someone gets beat, there’s always another player there to back them up.”

Junior defender Keanu Ruiz got the scoring started at the 21:17 mark in the first half, and the Falcons took a 1-0 lead into halftime.

Fitch asserted its dominance in the second half, scoring two goals to put the game out of reach for the Cardinals. The first second-half goal came off the foot of junior forward Andrew Lescsak.

“We were very hesitant in the first half,” Direnzo said. “We were reactive rather than proactive. In the second half we really turned up the heat and made sure to keep pressure on their end of the field.”

Senior defender Zack Glavic put an exclamation point on the Falcons’ win, scoring the final goal at the 24:35 mark in the second half.

The Cardinals managed to get off nine shots, which resulted in eight saves for Fitch freshman goalkeeper Jimmy Sorrells. Junior goalkeeper Connor Hecker had four saves on the day for Canfield.

The Falcons’ 4-1-1 record is the best start to a season in the program since 2015.

“When you play as a team, no one can stop you,” Direnzo said. “If you worry about individual stats or looking good out there, that’s when you start to make mistakes. But when you play together, hustle and encourage each other, that’s when you can become a great team.”

Canfield (2-5, 0-2) will take on Warren G. Harding Sept. 12, as it will seek its third win of the season.

“We’re learning every game,” Silvestri said. “Even when we do lose, we continue to learn. For us, we just want to keep working hard and not get frustrated when things don’t go our way. But they are young, and we’ll keep improving.”