Three regional soccer tournament participants highlighted a strong fall-season showing by the Suburban League.
One of the greatest soccer seasons in Suburban League history came to a close on Friday, Nov. 11, when Dayton Carroll topped Revere in the OHSAA Division II boys state final at Crew Stadium in Columbus.
Revere’s boys, Copley’s boys and Wadsworth’s girls represented the league well into their respective tournaments and created a milestone campaign for the SL.
Coach Sandor Jakab’s Minutemen (18-1-4) put together the first undefeated regular season in the program’s 34-year history and worked their way back into a rematch with defending D-II champion Dayton Carroll. However, the Patriots prevailed again and completed a 23-0-0 season with a 3-0 victory.
"We really never made a big deal of (going undefeated during the regular season). We kept going," said Jakab, who posted his 250th career win (21 years) when the Minutemen defeated Cortland Lakeview in the regional semifinal.
“As we look back, we’re going to embrace the tremendous accomplishments we’ve had.”
Revere started three seniors against Carroll (Colin Romisher, Max Palazzo, Matt Bezbatchenko) and was making its third state finals appearance (1995, 2010, 2011) and ranked second in the final state poll.
Romisher finished with 23 goals and eight assists.
Copley (15-3-4) made its deepest run in the OHSAA boys tournament since winning a state championship in 1994.
The Indians lost to eventual repeat state champion St. Ignatius in the Division I state semifinal.
After a 1-2-2 start to its season, Copley reeled off a 16-match unbeaten streak once senior defender Brad Ruhaak returned to the lineup and finished ninth in the final state poll.
“This year, we had a special group of kids that really understood what it means to be a team,” said fourth-year coach David Antal, a standout member of Copley’s state title team 17 years ago.
Copley started five seniors, including captains Tanner Manfull, Kirby Rice and Ruhaak.
The Indians were without their leading scorer – junior Riley Grant (16 goals, eight assists) – for the state semifinal.
Wadsworth’s girls won their first district soccer championship under the guidance of first-year coach Paul Williford.
The Grizzlies (16-3) lost a heartbreaking shootout in the Division I region final to Sylvania Northview.
Williford received major contributions from a multitude of players, including goalkeeper Kailie Reed, defender Grace Campbell, midfielder Jessie Gearhart, midfielder Amanda Davies, midfielder Brittany Fullbright and sophomore striker Leah Runkle (32 goals).
Wadsworth rallied for a milestone 2-1 win at Medina in the district semifinals and defeated the state-ranked Bees for the first time in 24 years.
Suburban League boys soccer teams were a composite 18-8 in the playoffs, led by Revere (6-1) and Copley (5-1). Four SL teams qualified for the district semifinals (Copley, Green, Highland, Revere) and seven programs won at least one sectional game. The Minutemen won the outright SL title (6-0-1), following a 1-1 tie at Wadsworth.
On the girls side, Suburban League teams were 8-8 led by Wadsworth (4-1). Copley, Revere and Wadsworth shared the league championship and reached district play. Revere lost 2-0 in the district finals to defending national and state champion Walsh Jesuit.
Revere senior Amy Feher and sophomore Marissa Milazzo each had 19 goals.
Highland senior Olivia Petek completed her record-breaking season with 27 goals. Copley senior Sasha Haverchak (17 goals, five assists) also had a brilliant season.
Three Suburban League volleyball teams made it to district tournament play.
Wadsworth, the Barberton Division I District champion in 2009, fell to Medina 25-23, 25-18, 19-25, 22-25, 15-8 in the 2011 district final after winning the outright SL championship.
Revere, second to Wadsworth in the league standings, lost a five-game match to Chagrin Falls in the Mayfield Division II District semifinals.
Copley took down Akron City Series champion Firestone in a Barberton sectional final before falling to Medina in the semifinals.
Linder signs with Kent State
Tallmadge senior baseball standout Tucker Linder made it official last week when he signed with Kent State University.
Linder, a second-team All-Ohio pitcher last spring, compiled a 7-1 mark, striking out 70 in 51 2/3 innings, to go along with a 0.95 ERA. He also hit .378 with two home runs for the 2011 district champions.
The 6-foot-5, three-sport athlete just completed a stellar football season, leading the Blue Devils’ SL championship team with 51 receptions for 871 yards and five touchdowns. He averaged 17.1 yards per catch and scored 40 points.
Linder also is a double-figure scorer and leading rebounder for the Tallmadge boys basketball team.
Five cross country stalwarts represented the SL at the OHSAA state meet, Nov. 5, at Hebron National Trail Raceway.
Among Division I boys, Copley senior Nick Pupino placed fourth (15:27.65) over 5,000 meters. Pupino concluded a marvelous season in which he placed second at regionals, first at districts and won the SL individual title.
Nordonia senior Patrick Osborne (16:06.09) was 31st at state after a fifth-place finish at regionals.
In Division II, Tallmadge sophomore Patrick Ferguson came home in 55th place (17:05.08).
Among Division I girls, Green senior Krista Roehlig and Wadsworth senior Paige Szabat ran side-by-side and placed 21st (18:46.48) and 22nd (18:46.70), respectively, to earn All-Ohio recognition.
New softball coach
Carla Brookbank-Schaal has been appointed varsity softball coach at Green, succeeding longtime coach Brian Tharp who retired from coaching earlier this year.
Her appointment is pending board approval.
Brookbank-Schaal has enjoyed a decorated softball playing career at Springfield High School, Kent State University and for three professional franchises, including the Akron Racers.
She led Springfield to OHSAA championships in 1988 and 1989 and was a two-time All-Ohio selection.
Brookbank-Schaal was Kent State’s team MVP three times and named Mid-American Conference Player of the Year in 1995 when she capped a record-setting career for the Golden Flashes.
As a professional player from 1997-2000, she was a two-time Women's Professional Softball League all-star and a member of the Team Smith Nationals squad which toured the country in 2002. She pitched one-hitters against Canadian and Great Britain Olympic teams while on tour.
She returned to the Akron Racers for the 2010 season and now takes over the Bulldogs, a perennial contender in the Suburban League.