Rangers Dominate Valley Forge 9-1 in Season Opener
When asked about his team last week, Lakewood Boys Soccer Coach Andrew Toth said this was the most excited he’s been in eleven seasons. In their opening regular season game against Valley Forge, the Rangers showed why. They won the game handily at Byers Field in Parma, taking a 9-1 victory. This was a dramatic turnaround from last season, when the Patriots beat the Rangers 7-0 in the OHSAA tournament.
From the opening kick it was obvious this game was going to be different. The Rangers dominated possession in the opening minutes, keeping the ball at the Valley Forge end. The Rangers got a corner kick in only the third minute of play, and it ultimately led to the first score. Junior Malvin Gblah scored from an assist by senior Brennan Foran with 32:15 left in the first half. The Rangers erupted with joy, as they sensed this was going to be a good night. Five minutes later Gblah struck again, this time with an assist from junior Jack Hueter. Like clockwork, Hueter scored a goal five minutes later off an assist from Foran, and the rout was on. The Rangers led 3-0 with 22:24 to go before halftime.
The floodgates opened, as the Rangers were quicker and more skilled than their opponents. Foran stretched the lead to 4-0 three minutes later, followed by yet another goal from senior Heghgay Ler. The lead was 5-0 with under 16 minutes in the half, and happy Ranger fans screamed their approval from the stands. Gblah struck next with 10:22 remaining, scoring a goal with a goal off another Hueter assist with 10: 22 to go. Then Heuter added another goal with 2:24 left in the half, resulting in a commanding 7-0 Ranger lead at halftime.
Lakewood dominated almost every phase of the game in the first half, outshooting the Patriots 11-4. Although they continued to dominate possession in the second half, Lakewood dialed back their offense. Valley Forge scored its only goal off a penalty kick with nearly 27 minutes left in the game. But the Rangers tacked on two more to make the final score 9-1: the first goal was from senior Isaac Karel, and then another from senior Chris Kafley.
The win was also the first Friday night game in Lakewood boys soccer history. The game, which was followed by a Padua/Normandy matchup, was part of a Parma double header. Gblah finished the game with three goals, Hueter with two. The defense, including senior goalkeeper George Hericks, was very effective. The Rangers looked like a team that will contend for the championship in the very strong Southwest Conference Championship. They get their first taste of SWC action on Wednesday night in their home opener against Amherst. Varsity action is scheduled to start at 7pm at First Federal Lakewood Stadium.
The annual Community Cup game between Lakewood and St. Edward has been resceduled from September 23rd to Monday, September 25th. The game will take place at St. Edward, with the JV scheduled for 6pm and varsity at 8pm.
Mike Deneen has extensive experience covering sports and community stories for the Lakewood Observer. Mike has been a Senior Industry Analyst for the Freedonia Group in Cleveland, Ohio, since 1998. He has appeared on CNBC’s Closing Bell, NPR’s MarketPlace and has been quoted multiple times in The Wall Street Journal. He has made multiple guest appearances on ESPN Cleveland radio. Mike also writes for Inside Northwestern, a website that covers Northwestern Wildcat Athletics. You can reach him on Twitter at @MikeDeneen1