Head coach Chris Dore’ described his Avon boys soccer team as predictable Wednesday night. His Eagles typically don’t play with many bells and whistles or smoke and mirrors.
They’re just a fundamentally sound, still-undefeated soccer team that plays conservatively and happens to feature one of the best back lines in school history.
The Eagles’ defense, led by senior Adam Kalvitz, sophomores Nathaniel Vakos and Logan Brown, and anchored by goalie Ryan Poling, have recorded 14 shutouts in 18 games, the latest being a 3-0 victory over visiting Amherst Wednesday in a Division I Elyria District semifinal. The top-seed in the District, they’ll face No. 3 Avon Lake Saturday at 7 p.m. at North Ridgeville in the final.
“The back line has just been phenomenal,” Dore’ said. “I have two sophomores and one senior back there. … And we have one of the best goalkeepers around. We play a pretty controlled game. We defend well, we control tempo and we look for opportunities to score. I’m happy with where we’re at.”
Avon (16-0-2) has allowed four goals all season, the fewest since giving up seven during the 2017 season. Against the fifth-seeded Comets (11-6-2), the Eagles conceded just four total shots, with only one being on net.
It took the Comets 21 minutes until their first shot sailed just right of the goal and out of bounds. Their next shot, saved by Poling, came nearly 20 minutes later.
“Our main goal is to not get scored on. Obviously, if you don’t get scored on you can’t lose,” Kalvitz said. “We’ve been stressing that all season, not to give up many goals. And we’ve got an amazing goalkeeper and an amazing back line, and we’ve got to give credit to everybody else on the team for our defense.”
The Comets played a determined game in their own right, though, slowing the Eagles’ attack for much of the first half until senior Aidan Lacko scored on a corner kick in the 27th that came as a surprise even to him.
His corner, launched toward the net from the right side of the field, curved its way past Comets goalie Camden Gross (five saves), giving the Eagles an unplanned 1-0 lead.
“I wasn’t really trying to shoot it,” Lacko said. “I was just trying to play the ball in. I thought it was really bad, but it wound up being really good and going in the back of the net. I’ve never done that during a game, but I’ve done it in practice before.”
Avon controlled possession for most of the match and outshot Amherst 19-4 (6-1 on net), but didn’t score again until sophomore Landon Dawson’s goal in the 45th minute. In the 62nd, freshman Sean Wilson scored on a shot that bounced inward off the right goal post and rolled across the goal line, nicking the left post before being ruled a successful try. Up 3-0, the Eagles cruised the rest of the way.
“I thought we were doing really well, and we started to get some attacks for little bits (of time) against a very talented team, the best in the area,” Comets coach Brett Thompson said. “That corner kick goal was tough because that just kind of sneaks in and we’re down 1-0…Once we went down by two, that was kind of the killer. They’ve given up four goals all year.”
Now the Eagles will attempt to win the Elyria District for the second year in a row, against a Shoremen team it beat 1-0 Aug. 21. Avon Lake went on to win the Southwestern Conference by one game, though the Eagles have yet to lose.
The Eagles know they will be tested Saturday.
“This game means a lot,” Lacko said. “It’s my senior season and it’s against our rivals, so it’s a big game.”
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