When North Olmsted, the No. 6 seed in the Division I Elyria District, played host to No. 11 John Marshall on Oct. 16, the Eagles had to deal with not only the speed of the Lawyers, but a torrential downpour.
Neither of those factors was enough to stop North Olmsted or midfielder Owen Reyes in a 7-0 Sectional semifinal win. The sophomore was a major source of offense for the Eagles, scoring a hat trick with goals in the sixth, 54th and 60th minutes. The goals marked the 10th, 11th and 12th for Reyes this season.
“I was focused throughout the whole day,” Reyes said. “I was just feeling good. I got a good warmup in. Getting the first goal kinda shuts down the (other) team when you get it early. It gives us confidence to go in and get the ball more.”
Alongside Reyes scoring goals were junior Aidan Fox (21st minute), sophomore Ryan Sanborn (42nd) and junior John Musial (71st). In the eighth minute, an attempted clearance by the Lawyers took a bad bounce and rolled into the net for an own goal.
Eagles coach Chris Marsh said he was pleased with how his team adapted to the bad weather and quick opponents to neutralize opportunities on defense while creating chances of their own on offense. North Olmsted (11-4-2) had a 13-6 shot lead (10-3 on goal) and had nine corners to John Marshall’s two.
“It breeds confidence early in the game when you score within the first 10 minutes,” Marsh said. “Owen is such a charismatic player. The last time we had a center midfielder who scored in double-digits; that goes back aways. That takes a little pressure off of our forwards.”
The Eagles’ went into halftime with a 3-0 halftime lead and all the momentum. Coming out in the fourth, nothing changed as it took Sanborn, who also assisted on Reyes’ first goal, less than two minutes to score.
“I like getting on the end line, putting balls in, finding other people and not always being selfish,” Sanborn said. “Sometimes you put the ball into the back of the net, too.”
Though John Marshall remained aggressive, they rarely challenged keepers Even Clere (two saves) in the first half and Gannon Graf (0 saves) in the second.
“We were very fortunate that we went and watched (John Marshall) play because they would have surprised us. This is a much, much better John Marshall team than in years past,” Marsh said. “We did not take them lightly. We need(ed) to show up, we need(ed) to put some balls in the net early and fortunately, we did do that. So it took a little of the wind out of their sails.”
The Eagles’ road doesn’t get any easier in the Sectional final. North Olmsted travels Saturday to play Southwestern Conference foe, No. 3 Avon Lake. In the teams’ first meeting on Oct. 2 at Avon Lake, the Shoremen handed the Eagles a 4-0 loss.
Marsh knows well the challenge ahead of him and his team, but is also confident they have what it takes to pull an upset.
“Number one we have to have a short memory but then again we’ve got to learn from the stuff that they really hurt us badly on,” Marsh said. “We’ve come a long way in the two-and-a-half weeks since we played them. They thumped us. We’ve gotta find a way to generate offense. Avon Lake had the ball 90% of the time, you can’t play defense that long.”
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