CVCA boys soccer gets past Preppers to return to state final four

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by Steve Batko | Correspondent The Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy boys soccer team continued its postseason run with a 1-0 victory over Hunting Valley University School in a Division II regional championship at Nordonia Nov. 3. For the eighth time in school history, the Royals will be heading to the State Tournament and the Division II Final Four. The win put CVCA (14-6) into the Division II state semifinal against Bay Village (15-4-3) at Brecksville-Broadview Heights Nov. 7 (see story, Page 55). "This group has continued to persevere throughout the season," said CVCA head coach Jon Taylor. "Also, the tough schedule has prepared us mentally, and that has helped us in the postseason as well." However, it wasn't easy to reach this point. With eight minutes remaining in a scoreless defensive battle against University School, CVCA got the game-winning goal as junior Sammy Meszaros headed the ball into the nets past Preppers goalie John Mino. Royals junior Ben Gradert commanded the ball in the middle of the field just outside the box, got around a Preppers' defender, and popped up the ball heading to his left and crossed it to Meszaros. "Sammy had a great goal, but Ben did a tremendous job breaking down the defense, but his hard work came before that to make it possible," said Taylor. "He (Gradert) did a great job winning the ball at central midfield, to give us that opportunity. Sammy did a great job putting it in there." The Preppers threatened to force overtime in the final three minutes, but a steady Royals defense continues to shine and they are doing it with team work. Senior goalkeeper Chad Prtenjak recorded another shut out for CVCA. University School forward Trenton Bulucea had an open look, but his shot went wide left. A corner kick in the closing seconds made things intense at the end. After a scramble, US forward Jared Bell kicked a low shot that was cleared by CVCA freshman Gino Finelli with 10 seconds left. "Our defense has been strong and I think the team is buying into defending as a team," said Taylor, who has only five seniors on the roster. "It's not just three or four guys defending, it's the entire team. That's something that has continued to get better through the season." CVCA had a host of scoring opportunities earlier in the match, the fact that the Royals didn't finish did not get to the psyche of the Royals. "The kids didn't get frustrated and I think that's because of the experiences they had against some strong teams in some close games through the middle part of the season," said the coach. Earlier in the match, CVCA had scoring chances by senior Zack Bosshard, junior Josiah DiPaolo and sophomore Joe Horth. Another scoring opportunity came just two minutes before the eventual goal. That's when junior Tim Andrassy had a cross to Meszaros that was just a step behind. One of those games that prepped CVCA for the deep post season run came against University School in the fourth game regular season. It was a tight 1-0 CVCA win over the Preppers. University School (5-16) also faced a strong slate, but had to forfeit 10 of its 11 regular season wins and a tie due to using an ineligible player. The Preppers made its first Sweet 16 appearance in 19 years. Bay Village defeated Ottawa-Glandorf 2-0 at Ashland Nov. 3 to join CVCA, Dayton Carroll and Bexley in the Division II boys final four. E-mail: stowsports@recordpub.com Phone: 330-541-9442

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