Rangers Beat Eagles to Retake Community Cup
The Lakewood boys soccer team registered its biggest win of the season Monday night, defeating St. Edward 2-0 before a boisterous crowd at Brother James Everett Stadium. A large crowd of Ranger fans made the short trip to the St. Edward campus, and were rewarded with the team’s best performance of the season. Senior goalkeeper George Hericks played an outstanding game, registering the clean sheet. The Lakewood defense was tough all night, and offensive playmakers Brennan Foran and Malvin Gblah provided the Ranger goals.
As expected, the game was played at a high level of intensity. Lakewood was the more aggressive team in the opening minutes, keeping the ball at the St. Edward end. Eagle freshman goalkeeper Zoltan Nagy made a couple early saves, including on a very strong shot at the 35 minute mark. St. Edward countered over the next few minutes, sending a shot wide right only 30 seconds later. Lakewood then regained momentum and went on the attack. Ranger senior Brennan Foran fired in goal at the 30:40 mark to give Lakewood a 1-0 lead. Ranger senior Attila Nagy, the older brother of the Eagle keeper, provided the assist. The crowd, which was a majority Lakewood fans, erupted in delight.
St. Edward appeared to tie the game two minutes later, but a goal from junior Noah Nauman was waved off by an official’s whistle. The Rangers suffered the same fate in the 24th minute, when Ranger senior Spencer Ward also had an apparent goal disallowed. Both teams upped their intensity…the Eagles had some good attacks late in the half, but Hericks saved numerous shots, including a dangerous corner ball that he snagged with 8:40 left in the half. The Rangers nearly doubled their lead in the final minute before halftime, but Zoltan Nagy made a save to keep the margin 1-0.
Hericks continued to face pressure early in the second half, but an Eagle shot sailed wide right late in the fourth minute. The Eagles had a pair of corner kicks in the next eight minutes, but were unable to break through. St. Edward senior Richard Nsabibama made a quality shot midway through the half, but it went wide left. Lakewood then attacked, and Gblah scored the Rangers’ second goal 44 seconds later. Junior Jack Hueter set him up with a nice assist, and Malvin drove it home to make the score 2-0. The crowd exploded with cheers, sensing that a Rangers had put the game away. Lakewood took control of the final 19 minutes, wearing down the Eagles physically. Gblah did some nifty dribbling to keep the Eagles at bay, and the Rangers mustered more shots on goal. The “sibling rivalry” between the Nagys was the focus at the 6:40 mark, when Ranger Attila had a 30 yard free kick against his younger brother. The ball sailed high by a couple of feet, keeping the game 2-0. The Eagles did their best to rally, posting shots in the final five minutes. Hericks stopped the most dangerous of these in the 36th minute, when made a strong save against a fine shot by Eagle junior Dylan Wright.
When the final seconds ticked off, the Rangers charged the field to celebrate. After the postgame hand shake, they hoisted the Community Cup with the happy Ranger student section. Ranger head coach Andrew Toth literally jumped for joy, and congratulated his team in the postgame huddle. “This is going to be the best five minute bus ride we’ve ever had” he told the team about their trip back to LHS. When asked what was the key to the win, Toth cited “a complete team effort from the group”. He said the victory represents eleven years of hard work was paying dividends for the program. He also commended the junior varsity squad, which defeated the Eagles 2-1 earlier in the evening.
Toth described his team as still “a work in progress”, and said that the program will maintain its “uncommon commitment to repetition” in the quest for success. Lakewood (now 6-4 on the season) returns to action Wednesday night at Westlake in a tough conference matchup. They return home next Monday for a 7pm nonconference game against Cleveland Heights. St. Edward (1-7-1) travels to Parma on Thursday to face Normandy. They return home on Saturday for a 4pm game against Lincoln West.
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