GENOA — It seems neither Lake nor Genoa can get an upper hand in the Northern Buckeye Conference boys soccer standings.
Both teams came into their showdown Thursday at Comet Soccer Stadium undefeated, and both left undefeated, playing to a draw for the second time this season.
The first meeting on September 8, the Comets and Flyers met at Lake, the game finished 4-4. This time it was 1-1.
“I think it lived up the hype. Two undefeated teams,” Lake coach Brian Reed said. “Still undefeated, so I thought we had a pretty good outing.”
Lake is now 11-0-2 overall and 6-0-2 in the league, Genoa is 11-0-3 and 6-0-2. The two teams will not meet again since Lake is Division II entering the sectional tournament, Genoa is D-III.
Both teams have two league games remaining, and if both win out, they will share the NBC title.
“We’ll share it. It was a heck of a battle,” Genoa coach Tim Memmer said. “It was twice we played, and it was heck of a battle the first time. It was another battle again. It was a lot of fun.”
Reed added, “I’m fine with it. I wanted some more for these guys. I wanted an outright title, but these guys play club with these guys.
“I coach with Tim in the offseason. I mean, we are going to a concert together on Sunday, so if I’m going to share it with somebody, this is the one I want to share it with.”
Despite everyone knowing everyone, the two teams played to a scoreless draw the first half with Lake having a 9-6 edge on shots, including 5-2 in shots on goal.
It took most of the second half before either team could get on the board, but it started when Lake junior forward Jackson Gladieux sent a cross left to junior forward Gael Rios.
Rios headed the ball past Genoa junior goalkeeper Tyler Harper, putting the Flyers up 1-0 with 8:03 remaining.
However, it did not take long for Genoa senior forward Griffin Meyer, who was a big part of the Comets’ NBC championship teams the past two years, to find a way to make something happen.
Meyer took the ball into the left corner of the pitch, delivered a cross right to freshman midfielder Jayden Kutchenriter, who found the back of the net with 4:06 remaining.
“It’s exciting,” Memmer said. “He’s been on the end of a couple very opportunistic chances to help some games out there, so it is exciting when a freshman can have that moment.
“We just knew Griffin needed a chance. If you give him a couple chances, he is going to make something happen out of it. He’s too hard to (defend). We just couldn’t get him the ball, was our issue.”
Meyer leads the team with 76 points on 23 goals and 30 assists, but he had just five shots, including three on goal. Reed knew he was the guy the Flyers’ defense was going to have to shut down, and that went well until the game-tying goal.
“We looked great. We did everything that we went into the game wanting to do — we knew we had to defend Griff well, we knew he was going to create some havoc and chances for them. I preached all week long about backside goals, and then,” Reed said.
“He really didn’t have many shots on goal. A lot of his dangerous play came from taking us wide and looking to serve those crosses, and it worked for them.”
By game’s end, Lake ended with a 23-13 advantage in shots, and 16-7 advantage in shots that were on the net.
Genoa’s backline kept Harper well protected, but Lake controlled possession at midfield, which was noticed by Memmer.
“It wasn’t so much them,” Memmer said. “It was our inability to play the right ball. They were pressing our midfield well, and it was a good battle. It was a battle the whole time.”
If there is anything the Flyers would like back was two apparent goals in the first six minutes of the second half.
After a foul in the box during a corner kick with 35:51 remaining, Lake junior forward Felipe Garcia found the back of the net on a penalty kick, but it was waived off because a Flyer had entered the box before Garcia struck the ball.
Less than a minute later off another corner kick, Rios seemed to score on a header, but it was taken off the board because of an offsides call against Lake.
“It’s unfortunate we get a PK taken away from us, and an offsides goal, but that’s just part of the game,” Reed said.
Harper, who was playing with an injured finger, had 15 saves, and Lake senior keeper Holden Wodrich had six saves.