Boardman upends Howland: Spartans hand Tigers 1st loss since 2019

Staff photo / Brian Yauger Boardman’s Ibby Mustafa (5) dribbles away from Howland’s Jet Hua (2) during the Spartans’ 4-2 upset of the Tigers.

HOWLAND — The Howland Tigers boys soccer team’s 42-game unbeaten streak came to an end when the Boardman Spartans visited on Tuesday.

Howland, who hadn’t lost since the 2019 Division II state championship game, fell behind and couldn’t catch up as Boardman walked away victorious 4-2.

“We don’t really talk about the unbeaten streak,” Howland (7-1) coach Brian Stiles said. ” It’s a young team. So, it’s a different team than we’ve had the last three years. This team had a seven game winning streak.

“Tonight, we learned a lesson. We got beat by a better team. Boardman came with more hustle. They played a smarter game. They stayed disciplined. It caught us off guard and we paid the price. But mostly, Boardman was better than Howland.”

The Spartans’ win also marked the first time Boardman has beaten Howland since 2004.

“I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves,” Boardman (6-1-1) coach Eric Simione said. “It was a big game, but it’s just another step towards our goals. We don’t want to make too much out of it.

“Howland is a great program. There are very few players on our team that were even born yet the last time we beat them. Someone had to end that unbeaten streak. If not us, who? If not now, when?”

The time was Tuesday for Boardman as the Spartans took a 1-0 lead into halftime under soggy conditions while rain fell throughout the contest.

The slick turf didn’t slow down Boardman junior Ian McGavin. His goal from right in front of the net put the Spartans ahead 2-0 early in the second half.

The Boardman defense did a great job of taking away space on every touch. They pushed up and made it difficult for Howland to stay onside.

However, senior Nicholas Durig was able to find fellow senior Fernando Ramos Jr. for Howland’s first goal.

The Tigers had a couple of good looks at tying it up. First, junior Jet Hua couldn’t settle the ball for the shot. Then, senior Dylan DiPiero ripped it wide right on a free-kick.

Boardman capitalized on Howland’s inability to hit the back of the net as junior Logan Thompson put the Spartans on top 3-1.

“The guys were ready for it,” Simione said. ” They wanted this game. They did something that so many of our guys have tried to do over the years. We’ve had so many close calls. It was a great effort by a great group of guys.”

Senior captain Cole Congson added an insurance goal making it 4-1 with 5 minutes left to play.

“It’s been a goal all season to beat Howland,” Congson said. “I’ve been playing varsity since I was a freshman and we’ve never beat them. We tied them once.”

“Every year, it’s Howland. They’re the state champions, and the state runner-ups. We haven’t beat them in seventeen years. We were looking for this to be our year.”

It is Boardman’s year after Pasquale Carannante scored one more goal for Howland.

“It’s my senior season,” Congson said. “Everybody came out ready. This was probably our best performance of the year. We went as hard as we could, for eighty minutes, and we came away with the W.”


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