COPLEY TWP. — The third-seeded Brunswick boys soccer team had opportunities to earn its first trip to the district finals since 2006 but could not capitalize.
With less than three minutes left Wednesday, Copley junior Josh Davis sent home a penalty kick for a 2-1 victory in the Akron Division I District semifinals. It marked the third straight season the Blue Devils’ tournament ended in the district semis, while the Indians (12-5-1) will meet top-seeded Medina on Saturday night.
“(Our team) played with an effort that was who we are as a program, and I’m very proud of them,” Brunswick coach Ben Dotson said.
Brunswick (11-5-2) goalkeeper Gavyn Ernst dove right, but Davis’ shot found the back of the net to the left.
The penalty kick capped a tightly called second half.
Brunswick had multiple late chances to break a 1-1 tie. Senior Garrett Shay fed a perfect pass to the middle of the box, where forward Tyler Hudy splashed the ball into the net but was ruled offside.
“Obviously, all of the seniors, it could be our last game, so we had to go out and give it our all,” Brunswick defender Ryan McConnell said. “We had to do it for the team, do it for the kids that had been working up to this point and just go out and try to win.”
Shay found senior Sean Tarbuck with 15 minutes left, but Indians goalkeeper Thomas Leipold made a save and Shay’s rebound sailed high. Minutes before Davis’ penalty kick, Shay had a ball deflect off the top left corner of the goal.
“I think that a neutral (person) sitting in the stands would say that we were the better team tonight,” Dotson said. “We had good chances, we played organized, we played hard and we executed a game plan to perfection. I’m just proud of my kids.”
Brunswick had 10 shots on goal compared to eight for Copley.
After a strong defensive start, the Indians scored first when midfielder Ben Brucken sent a shot from the right corner. Ernst jumped to deflect the ball, but it spun off his glove and scooted back just enough to cross the goal line.
With time winding down in the first half, Brunswick evened the score. Junior captain Justin Hagler sent a free kick from 45 yards and McConnell’s header attempt missed, but the ball landed at McConnell’s feet for a goal.
“That goal gave us a lot of momentum headed into the second half,” McConnell said. “It gave us a lot of hope to come out in the next half and try to get another one in.”
The goal sparked the Blue Devils heading into the second half, but the Indians defense held firm to earn a second meeting with Medina. The Bees defeated Copley 2-1 in the first game of the season.
Copley 2, Brunswick 1
Akron Division I District Semifinal
BRUNSWICK 1 0 — 1
COPLEY 1 1 — 2
C — Ben Brucken, 13:51.
B — Ryan McConnell (Justin Hagler), 2:43.
C — Josh Davis, 2:50.
Shots on goal — Brunswick 10, Copley 8. Corner kicks — Copley 5, Brunswick 3. Saves — Thomas Leipold (C) 8, Josh Hofacker (C) 1, Gavyn Ernst (B) 6. Records — Copley (12-5-1), Brunswick (11-5-2).