Perrysburg boys soccer Southview 2021

Perrysburg junior James Xiao, left, battles against Southview’s Dylan Johnson for control of the ball during the first half of a soccer match on October 5, 2021 at Steinecker Stadium in Perrysburg.

PERRYSBURG — When the unbeaten Southview boys soccer team wants to score, they go direct — rush the net and hope for the best.

“We have the speed, we have the confidence, and yeah, we like to go route 1 — straight up,” Southview coach Andy Kufel said.

In a Northern Lakes League matchup at Perrysburg’s Steinecker Stadium Tuesday, the Cougars’ strategy paid off with a 3-1 conference victory over the Yellow Jackets.

Unbeaten Southview improves to 10-0-5 overall and 6-0 in the Northern Lakes League, strengthening their hold on first place in the NLL. The Cougars need one more win to clinch.

“In all the games, it is crunch time, so it’s ‘do or die,’ and you need to win right now. I’m happy for the guys,” Kufel said.

On Tuesday, Southview hosts Anthony Wayne (10-3-2, 5-0-1) for the NLL championship. Perrysburg, which needed a win against Southview to stay in the hunt, falls to 8-5-2 overall and 3-1-2 in the NLL.

At halftime, it appeared that the Yellow Jackets might have the Cougars’ number, leading 1-0.

Midway through the half, Perrysburg junior midfielder James Xiao played the ball into the right corner, where he passed to junior forward Keegan Motter.

Motter’s shot from the corner almost appeared to be a cross, but it was defended by Southview senior goalkeeper Lucas Osenbaugh with one problem.

Osenbaugh lost the handle and the ball dropped and fell to his left, slowly rolling into the net before he could recover. The Yellow Jackets led 1-0 with 22:43 remaining in the half.

In the second half, Southview’s direct approach finally began paying off. With the wind at his back, junior forward Tyler Pawlicki sent a 70-yard direct free kick straight toward the box on a line drive.

Southview junior defender Jackson Topoleski found the handle on a ricochet and sent a header past Perrysburg sophomore keeper Isaac Revill 4 minutes and 11 seconds after the second half kickoff, tying the game at 1-1.

The strategy was obvious — get the ball into the box and let the attackers do their job. It is what the Cougars had been trying to do the entire game.

“They are a very direct team. We knew it going in,” Perrysburg coach Dennis Jeansonne said.

It would be Southview’s only score from an offensive set, and after each team had just three shots on goal the first half, the Yellow Jackets outshot the Cougars 8-6 in the second half.

“We defended it well in the first half, and honestly, I felt we defended it not too bad in the second half, either. But when you go direct 100 times, then they get a few more opportunities,” Jeansonne said.

The difference — Southview senior forward Isiah Moores was 2-for-2 in penalty kicks in the final 16 minutes. However, both penalties were whistled against defenders trying to defend against an attack on the goal.

The first came with a collision in the box involving two Southview forwards, but Revill was also knocked to the ground.

On his first PK, Moores took a stutter-step, then directed the ball to Revill’s left and into the right corner of the net with 15:57 on the clock.

Just over two minutes later, Southview junior forward Nate Schuele entered the box on a breakaway, and the only defender standing between him, and the goal was Revill.

Perrysburg junior defenseman Trevor Pollock was trailing. Pollock and Schuele collided, and both went down. Pollock was rewarded with a yellow card and Moores was given another PK opportunity with 13:51 remaining.

This time, Moores took his patented stutter step, but directed the shot to Revill’s right and into the left corner of the goal.

Jeansonne and assistant coaches Pablo Ramirez and Dylan Stevens had a long postgame talk with the Yellow Jackets. Jeansonne said it was “frustrating” to lose an important game on two PKs.

“It’s all about regrouping and a little bit about what we told them last week, too. You can’t let these losses define you,” Jeansonne said. “How we rebound from this will define us. It’s the same thing as last week — we were 0-0 with St. John’s in a fantastic game (5-0 Titans win) and we laid an egg in the second half — the same thing as here.

“We went up 1-0 (against Southview), and maybe we were a little bit unlucky on some things in the second half,” Jeansonne continued. “But we rebounded a little bit better than we did last week. Again, we have a couple more games and we have the tournament. If we can rebound even better, we’ll be in there.”