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2011 State Soccer Tournament Boys 2A Final; Eastview vs Eden Prairie

2011 November 3
by Kyle Nelson

Mall of America Field (Metrodome)

Boys 2A Final

Eden Prairie  3-1  Eastview

In their first appearance in the State Tournament, Eastview (20-1-1) found themselves in the Minnesota Boy’s 2A State High School Soccer Final playing against Eden Prairie (16-3-3) who had been there five times before. After finishing regular season undefeated, Eastview was hoping to continue on to a state title, but Eden Prairie had the experience on their side.

Eden Prairie nearly handed an early lead to Eastview just before the 3rd minute of play when trying to clear a long ball out of the box an EP defender sent the ball to the top of the box where junior Matthew Gweh hit the ball on a half-volley. Unfortunately Gweh sent the shot straight at keeper Alex Dewey.

A short time later in the 4th minute the same situation was mirrored in the Eastview end when one of their defenders set up Eden Prairie junior Medo Youssef inside the top of the penalty box. Youssef fired off a shot that had a lot more pace than Gweh’s, leaving the keeper no chance to stop EP from taking the lead, “I was thinking about hitting it on the other side, but I focused on one spot and tried to hit it,” recalled Youssef at the end of the game.

Eastviews' Pierce Erickson (12) battle EP's Ryan Shore (23). Photo by Jermey Olson - www.digitalgopher.net

The speed of play kept rising as the game went on. Both teams found themselves playing end-to-end soccer, but in 20 minutes couldn’t create a dangerous chance thanks to some solid defense. In what seemed like a reaction to the pace of the game, Eden Prairie sent out subs four or five at a time. “We’ve done that all year. With a school of our size we have some really good athletes,” explained Eden Prairie coach Vince Thomas, “I think it’s an advantage we need to use.”

In the 23rd minute Eden Prairie nearly added another when junior Roman Derevyanko collected a cross at the far post with just the keeper to beat. Derevyanko was able to get a shot past the keeper, but Eastview defender Jonathan Lenz kept the ball out with a goal line clearance.

Eastview looked to press the Eden Prairie defense through the play of Gweh who constantly found himself swarmed by defenders. “Find number 3,” Coach Thomas put simply when asked about his team’s defensive strategy, “[Gweh] is so dangerous.” Despite the pressure Gweh’s foot skills freed him up a few times outside of the penalty box, but couldn’t test the keeper.

The rest of the chances of the half came to Eden Prarie. In the 25th minute defender Ryan Shore sent a long cross to the far post where senior Alez Aksoz tried to volley his shot on goal, but the ball went over the goal.

A couple of defensive lapses nearly extended Eden Prairie’s lead when an Eastview defender tried to play a ball back to his keeper with his head. The header didn’t have enough power and Derevyanko took possession but his shot ended in the side netting of the near post. A few minutes later Eastview’s Brennan EspindaBanick was stripped of the ball deep in his own half, butEden Prairie couldn’t connect for a chance on goal.

In the final minute of the half Eden Prairie senior Dane Niemira ripped a long range shot that shook the frame of the goal as it came off the crossbar.

In the second half Eden Prairie continued to press forward getting a number of shots much to the delight of Coach Thomas, “[we] didn’t get into a defensive shell. We kept coming at them. If we keep the ball down where we want to and let any of those guys have a chance at it good things are going to happen.” As EP continued to possess and get chances, Eastview began to give away a number of fouls accumulating 13 in the second half compared to four in the first.

In the 67th minute EP attacker Natalio Blanche had a chance to put his team up two goals after he got on the end of a cross from junior Michael Vuolo. Vuolo sent a ball in from the left side of the box to an unmarked Blanche in the center, but Blanche’s header lacked pace and made it an easy save for keeper Sam Ruelas.

With Eden Prairie’s defense preventing any good chances in the run of play, Eastview looked to take advantage during a few set plays. The first came from a free kick by Gweh who sent the ball far post where an Eastview player threw himself at the cross, but missed and ended up in the net himself. Eastview also had two chances from long throw-ins from defender Sam Fluegge.

In the 79th minute Eden Prairie doubled their lead when Medo Youssef sent a through ball to Blanche with a diving header. Blanche held his run to stay onside then beat Ruelas 1v1.

Less than a minute later EP made it 3-0 when Vuolo collected the ball off a defensive mis-play in Eastview’s defensive third. Vuolo took the ball towards the corner of the 18 and bent in a shot that beat the keeper far post.

In the final minute of the game Eastview’s Gweh was able to give his team a consolation goal when he was able to get on the end of a cross inside the penalty box and redirect the cross into the net.

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