COLUMBUS: The tears formed around coach Jon Taylor’s eyes as he addressed his Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy boys soccer team one final time on the pitch this season.
Taylor gathered his players and coaching staff for a post-match huddle following the Division II state championship Saturday at Columbus Crew Stadium.
CVCA battled hard, but Dayton Carroll was just too talented and won 2-0 to earn its third state title in a row. Carroll also extended its streak of consecutive matches without a loss to a state-record 60 and has won four out of the past five Division II state titles.
The Patriots (19-0-4) struck quickly when junior defender John Rutan scored a goal in the second minute of the match following a pass by senior forward Vonne Byrd.
The Royals (15-7-0) never found the equalizer as a bright sun and unusually warm November weather greeted everyone in attendance.
“I think anytime that you come to Columbus, because the venue changes, sometimes everything changes,” Taylor said. “We prepared and we had a great week of training, and we had a great last 24 hours together as a group. I think that the guys felt really confident in their preparation. The problem is when you give away a goal in the first two minutes, a lot of the things you prepare for, change.”
Carroll upped its lead to 2-0 with a goal by Byrd in the 29th minute. Senior midfielder Zach Zwiesler, a Wright State University recruit, got the assist.
“I am just so proud of the guys and this streak,” Carroll coach Scott Molfenter said. “Coming off the year that we had last year, there was just a huge target on these guys’ back. They just answered every night. We did have a few ties in there, but it was good and we grew up as a team. I don’t think we were playing well at the beginning of the year, but the kids found a way. CVCA is such a good team. They move the ball very well and play such an attractive style of soccer.”
CVCA almost netted a goal in the 30th minute with three shot attempts from within five yards of the net. Royals junior midfielder Ben Gradert placed two shots off the cross bar consecutively, one by foot and the other on a header. Senior defender Joe Horth then booted a shot that Patriots senior midfielder Trae’ Collins blocked and the ball was cleared away.
“At the end of the day, whether we win or lose, I am still sad,” said CVCA senior midfielder Zack Bosshard, a Messiah College recruit.
“It just shows a little bit differently. I was just talking to Coach, and either way, tomorrow I will be just as sad. It is not about winning or losing. It is about the environment and culture that CVCA soccer is all about. It is a bunch of people investing in each other’s lives. That is the part that is making me sad that it is over.”
CVCA controlled possession for most of the second half, but was unable to put the ball past Carroll sophomore Noah Kummer.
“I was very proud of the way the guys responded,” Taylor said. “I think in the second half we came out a little bit more calmed down. We established ourselves a little bit more and connected on some more passes. We played well in the second half. I think there are some guys that walked off the field, and would say, ‘Yeah, probably not our best performance as a team,’ but a lot of guys probably felt that the second half was as good as we needed to play throughout the entire game to get a result.”
Royals senior goalkeeper Chad Prtenjak made two saves. Horth, Bosshard and Prtenjak made their final start.
Taylor will return eight starters: freshman Gino Finelli; sophomores Ben Locke, Collin Surface and Joe Horth; and juniors Gradert, Johnny Akindipe, Tim Andrassy and Sammy Meszaros.
“The kids in the program value this tremendously,” Taylor said. “They value it enough to work really, really hard in season and out for each other. The future of the program is strong and healthy. I think that will continue to be the case as long those that are in it value it tremendously.”
This CVCA team joins Royals teams in 2002 (Division III), 2008 (Division II) and 2009 (Division III) that finished as a state runner-up. CVCA won state titles in 2004 and 2010 in Division III and in 2007 in Division II. … Columbus Crew player Ben Speas cheered on his alma mater, CVCA. Speas won college national championships at the University of Akron (2010) and the University of North Carolina (2011). … Locke finished the season as CVCA’s top goal scorer with 20. … Carroll has won five state titles (1980, 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012).
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.