Falcons Take Game One

Sectional Soccer Success
Posted on 10/18/2018
Image of Firestone Sectional Soccer(Brad Bournival writing for Ohio.com/Akron Beacon Journal)

Redemption is a dish best served with a side of goals.

The Firestone boys soccer team was able to right a wrong it had earlier in the season.

It came Wednesday in a 3-2 victory over ninth-seeded Highland in an Akron Division I sectional opener.

On Sept. 20, Falcons (10-6-1) welcomed the Hornets (6-11) to the Copley Road Soccer Complex and promptly lost a 6-3 non-conference game that was essentially over by halftime.

Enter the postseason and enter a completely different mindset.

“I wanted to come out as hard as I could,” Firestone forward Christopher Pongracz said. “Obviously, my team showed that on the field. I think everyone on my team worked as they could. We performed well, and it paid off in the end.”

Eighth-seeded Firestone had a little bit more going for it as well after its girls team lost to Highland 18-0 on Monday in post-season play.

Although that outcome had no effect in this game, it certainly was on the minds of some of the players, who played in front of a large chunk of the girls team, which made the trek to Highland Stadium.

“It was for them a lot,” Pongracz said. “They told us they lost by quite a bit. We came back and even before the game, we were like, ‘Let’s get that on them.’ That was kind of ridiculous that they ran that up like that.”

Things started positive for Firestone when Pongracz scored on an assist from Ryan Oderkirk 12:51 into things.

Eli Fragnoli tied it up seven minutes later, however, and it looked like Highland had life.

That is until the Pongracz-Oderkirk connection struck again 11:32 before halftime to give the Falcons a one-goal edge at the break.

Oderkirk provided the dagger 5:55 into the second half on almost a carbon copy of the first two goals.

The pass, of course, came from Pongracz. It not only gave the Falcons a two-goal advantage, it also gave confidence to a team ready to advance in sectional play.

“It was amazing,” Oderkirk said. “You could really feel the mood on the field change. I think that really gave us the leverage. It changed things completely.”

Key in Firestone’s win was the play of Connor O’Brien, Aiden Grass, Charley Bailey and Nick Reichlin.

Burned by Fragnoli in the first game when the senior registered a hat trick and assist, the quartet put a man on the front side of the forward and the backside.

Although Fragnoli scored twice, it came off a rebound on a shot by Christian Heini in the first half and with 18 seconds remaining in the second half.

“It’s not my regular defense to be honest,” Falcons coach Michael Householder said. “I pushed someone from the midfield to the back to put that layer in there. They played a phenomenal game. They did exactly what we wanted. They executed our plan to the ‘T.’”

The win brings a sectional final Saturday against top-seeded Medina (11-1-4). The Bees are the three-time defending district champions and have made it to the regional level five out of the last six seasons.

Medina beat Firestone 2-1 in a sectional final last season.

“We’re going to have come up with a plan that has a little more attacking then we did today, so we can keep it diverted from us” Householder said. “We need more offense.”

Note
Firestone’s Konnor Schwerdtfeger and Highland’s Trent Thomas received straight red cards with 17:11 remaining. Although Thomas’ season is over, Schwerdtfeger must sit out the next two games under OHSAA rules.

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