YORK TWP. — When you have a school’s number the way the Buckeye boys soccer team does against Brookside, complacency can set in.
While it might have happened originally, the drive to reach the district finals for the first time in school history is all the second-seeded Bucks needed Tuesday.
It added up to a 2-1 Elyria Division II District semifinal victory over the third-seeded Cardinals.
The win pushed Buckeye (14-3-1) to the Berea-Midpark Athletic Complex on Saturday, where it will play fourth-seeded Bay (13-4-1).
“There’s a great group of guys here who all love the opportunity,” Bucks midfielder Shaye Joyce said. “We’re all ready to play and get to the top 16.”
Playing against a team they had outscored 115-7 in 15 prior meetings (13-0-2 record), including 2-0 earlier in the year, the Bucks let the Cardinals (13-5) control action.
The wakeup call came with 12:49 before intermission when Owen Rozanc scored to give Brookside a 1-0 lead.
“It hit us pretty hard,” Buckeye holding midfielder Jared Bonnett said. “We started to almost get down. We knew we had to come back. We practiced it. We made sure we knew that if we did have to come back, we did.”
The Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division champions may not have faced much adversity this season, but they knew what to do to put momentum back in their favor.
Tyler Miranda tied the game eight minutes later off a pass from Joyce. Kyle Haberkorn threw the haymaker with 2:10 left before the break on another pass from Joyce.
The goal did so much more than give Buckeye a one-goal advantage, as a squad that has scored 79 goals pushed tempo.
“It was huge,” Haberkorn said. “It was just a great feeling for everyone. It changed the momentum of the game. Miranda’s goal to tie the game was huge for us, but to score right before the half I think mentally put them down. It changed things entirely.”
It not only helped the Bucks, who outshot Brookside 14-5, on offense, it brought the defense to life, as Bonnett, Clay Gunkelman, Carter Hudak, Adam Matras and Mason Clutter bunkered down.
The one time Brookside, which had five yellow cards and two red cards, threatened in the second half, keeper Zach Ridler got a hand on a shot, but it trickled toward the goal.
Bonnett took it off the line and the Bucks preserved the victory.
“Once we got that lead, we were more confident with our play,” Bonnett said. “We started doing what we’ve been doing all season. We knew they had the one main kid (Rozanc).”
While this will be Buckeye’s first trip to a district final, Bay practically lives there. The Rockets took top-seeded Rocky River (14-3-1) into overtime before winning in penalty kicks.
Bay is one season removed from back-to-back state runner-up showings and has won five straight district titles.
“We’re glad to get this game under our belt,” Bucks coach Joe Serio said. “Brookside is a good game. It was a good warmup for us.
“We’ll do what we do week in and week out. We’re going to play fundamental ball, stick to our game plan and take our chances.”
Contact Brad Bournival at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Buckeye 2, Brookside 1
Elyria Division II District Semifinal
BROOKSIDE 1 0 — 1
BUCKEYE 2 0 — 2
Br — Owen Rozanc (Devin Houdeshell), 12:49.
Bu — Tyler Miranda (Shaye Joyce), 4:38.
Bu — Kyle Haberkorn (Joyce), 2:10.
Shots on goal — Brookside 5, Buckeye 14. Corner kicks — Brookside 1, Buckeye 6. Saves — Connor Baughman (Bro) 12, Zach Ridler (Buc) 4. Records — Brookside (13-5), Buckeye (14-3-1).