MEDINA — The ricochets dangerously near the pipes were like watching a lottery ball bouncing around in a bin as the crowd held its collective breath.
The shortest player on the field just happened to draw the lucky number.
Fireplug senior Andy Prostor played hero Wednesday in the Medina Division I District semifinals against rival Brunswick, partially heading a floater just over the goal line with 17:55 remaining to give the Medina boys soccer team a hard-earned 2-1 victory.
The defending state semifinalist and second-seeded Bees (12-1-5) advanced to play fourth-seeded Copley, a 2-1 overtime upset winner against top-seeded Wadsworth, at 7 p.m. Saturday.
“Oh, my god. It’s incredible, man,” Prostor said. “We lost at Brunswick earlier in the season, and it’s always one of the biggest games of the season. They’re our archrival, that city up north. You don’t want to call them that, but that’s just the words that go around.
“It’s an incredible feeling just coming out here and getting the result in my last game on this field ever.”
The winning play came off Medina’s eighth and final corner kick. Instead of lofting the ball as he had all game, Parker Csiszar played it back and a teammate fired to the left post.
Along the way, the shot deflected multiple times and all but disappeared into the mass of humanity directly in the front of the goal. Suddenly, Prostor’s head connected and the ball popped into the air toward the upper corner.
Brunswick keeper Gavyn Earnst jumped hard to his left and attempted to hook the ball toward the field of play, but the corner referee threw up his flag to indicate a goal and everyone stood still.
Prostor then sprinted toward the rowdy student section and let out a primal roar with his arms outstretched.
“The ball was bobbling back and forth, and I think a couple people got their heads to it,” Prostor said. “I kind of jumped up and got something on it, it went over the line and the keeper pulled it out. Whether it was in or not — Brunswick will debate that — it was a cluster and we got the goal.”
There was plenty of time remaining and the third-seeded Blue Devils (12-4-2) still had star Nick Felician in the midfield. Greater Cleveland Conference winner Brunswick pushed hard, but Medina senior goalie Alex Stan, who came in at halftime, was up to the challenge.
Three times in a 90-second stretch, Stan stood tall. The first big stop came when he quickly grabbed a header attempt off a corner kick with seven minutes left. Just 55 seconds later, he moved up to cut off a twisting crossing attempt in the box and with 5:30 to go he stonewalled a hard shot by Nick Demonte.
“I just kept my focus the whole time,” Stan said. “I had to make those saves or else we would have lost or had to go into overtime. I was just in the moment.”
Medina had to rally, as Brunswick got on the board a mere 78 seconds in. Justin Hagler spun a free kick to the opposite side of the box, where Felician soared above multiple defenders and headed a looper over Tyler Glasenapp’s outstretched arms.
With Parker and Gavin Csiszar controlling the midfield throughout, Medina never panicked and controlled play while keeping a keen eye on the Blue Devils’ counter attack.
The Bees soon broke through.
Only seven minutes after Felician’s score, Parker Csiszar poked the ball ahead to Riley Furey, but the attempt went into no man’s land. Furey quickly side-stepped out of the way and shielded a defender in the process, allowing Csiszar to fire a bullet from the top of the box to knot the game.
“We tried to contain their two guys — Prostor’s a fantastic player, Parker Csiszar’s a fantastic player,” Brunswick coach Ben Dotson said. “We had a dream start, but we let Parker get loose too many times in the first half and he punished us on the one.”
The Bees then dodged a bullet when Demonte scooted a soft poke by Glasenapp from a tough angle going left to right, but defender Tom Guta’s hustle saved the ball from going across the line.
That set the stage for Prostor to work his magic in a physical second half.
“They’re a tough opponent, that’s for sure,” he said. “It’s a pleasure to play on this field for one more time. Just survive and advance.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Medina 2, Brunswick 1
Medina Division I District Semifinal
BRUNSWICK 1 0 — 1
MEDINA 1 1 — 2
B — Nick Felician (Justin Hagler), 38:42.
M — Parker Csiszar, 31:32.
M — Andy Prostor, 17:55.
Shots on goal — Brunswick 8, Medina 6. Corner kicks — Brunswick 3, Medina 8. Saves — Gavin Ernst (B) 4, Tyler Glasenapp (M) 2, Alex Stan (M) 5. Records — Brunswick (12-4-2), Medina (12-1-5).