STRONGSVILLE — Most girls soccer teams would be happy to walk off with a 2-2 Greater Cleveland Conference tie against Strongsville.
Medina is not one of them.
The Bees (9-0-2, 4-0-1), who came in ranked atop the Division I state coaches poll, did almost everything they could Wednesday against the No. 2 Mustangs (10-0-2, 4-0-1), but they couldn’t deliver the knockout punch.
It marked the 10th consecutive time Medina hasn’t beaten Strongsville. The Mustangs are 6-0-4 against their rivals and haven’t lost since Sept. 11, 2010 (2-1).
“Why does it sting?” Medina forward Maria Nelson asked. “We were the better team. We came in knowing we were and the last 15 minutes, the last 20 minutes, it just went downhill.”
The Bees looked like the better squad for the better part of the match, but determined Strongsville kicked things up a notch over the last 12:20 to erase a two-goal deficit.
“We’re not happy with a tie,” Medina defender Aliese Pedro said. “We really wanted that win. They really brought it to us. We’re going to remember this, and we’re going to hopefully see them in the state semifinal and take it up another level.”
The level of this one, for the most part, had the feel of two top teams fighting tooth-and-nail.
Ranked fourth in the nation by TopDrawerSoccer.com, Medina took it to No. 12 Strongsville only to have it taken away at the end.
“This one stings and it’s a testament to our team,” Medina coach Doug Coreno said. “It shows where we’re at. Eight months ago, they beat us 3-0 in the district final and it may as well have been 6-0 the way the game went.
“Tonight, we come to their home field and leave with a 2-2 result and, man, it feels like we got beat 5-0. It was a big game tonight. It would have been great to get the ‘W,’ but at the end of the day, if we can learn things from tonight and get better and be a better playoff team, then it’s worth it.”
What Medina learned more than anything was to not let off the gas.
Riley Kerber scored on an assist from Maria Nelson with 11:19 remaining before halftime to take a one-goal lead into intermission.
Pedro scored off an assist from Tori Lyncha to make it 2-0 Bees with 15:55 remaining and it looked like Medina was going to go home happy.
But Shelby Sallee slotted a ball to Coley Sidloski with 12:20 remaining to put things in doubt before an own goal knotted things with 2:12 remaining. Libby Majka took a shot from inside the 18 that looked like it would have gone in anyway before ticking off a Medina defender’s head and into the left corner.
“For us, it’s how we responded,” Strongsville coach Todd Church said. “Being down at halftime on our home field, in front of a big crowd, and being down 2-0 late in the game, that was the biggest deficit we faced all year.
“For our kids to get up and respond like that and get two goals, and maybe a third was in there with Sallee’s breakaway (that went wide), for me going forward, that’s a great thing. This had the feeling of a November game, a regional final or something like that. That’s exactly what it felt like. That’s great experience for us.”
That experience is what both hope to take into the postseason in three weeks, with the hope they meet again Nov. 6 in a state semifinal.
“We definitely learned a lesson tonight and will want to beat them more when we meet them again,” Nelson said. “They’re a great team. We’re a great team. The vibe was good.
“I want to beat them even more. If we beat them later on, it will mean so much to everyone and will finally break this rivalry curse.”
The Medina junior varsity took out Strongsville 3-0 thanks to goals from Sophia Kobasuk, Kyla Miller and Taylor Shadle. Sarah Clardy picked up the shutout in net.
Medina 2, Strongsville 2
MEDINA 1 1 — 2
STRONGSVILLE 0 2 — 2
M — Riley Kerber (Maria Nelson), 11:19.
M — Aliese Pedro (Tori Lyncha), 15:55.
S — Coley Sidloski (Shelby Sallee), 12:20.
S — Own goal, 2:12.
Shots on goal — Medina 7, Strongsville 4. Corner kicks — Medina 5, Strongsville 2. Saves — Tori DeLappi (M) 1, Belle Wagner (M) 1, Reanna Laurell (S) 5. Records — Medina (9-0-2, 4-0-1), Strongsville (10-0-2, 4-0-1). Junior varsity — Medina 3, Strongsville 0.