GRANGER TWP. — The Highland boys soccer team entered a non-league game against 2017 Division I state runner-up Medina on Thursday with a strict game plan that it nearly executed perfectly.
Playing with a defensive mentality, Highland kept the game scoreless until Medina sophomore midfielder Gavin Csiszar fed junior midfielder Josh Cabacungan with 18 minutes left and Cabacungan drove the ball into the goal from the left side to give the Bees a 1-0 victory.
“In the second half when I came in, I was hungry. I wanted a goal,” Cabacungan said. “The ball came in and I just put it in the goal.”
Medina (3-0-1) carried a 13-5 shots-on-goal advantage, but Highland senior goalkeeper Ben Petersen was strong with 12 saves, including 10 in the first half.
The Hornets (1-3) had a few late opportunities to tie but came up short. With just over eight minutes left, senior midfielder Andras Fabian passed left to Eli Fragnoli, who lined a kick on goal that senior keeper Brendan Delac caught at his chest.
The Hornets’ best chance followed on a corner kick inside the two-minute mark. Fabian sent the ball into a crowd and the ball deflected in, but the play was called off for a pushing violation. Hornets first-year coach Denny Ciornei said the officials couldn’t tell him which player was called for the infraction.
Highland senior Christopher Sollenberger came close to giving the Hornets an early lead when his shot from the right side got behind the Medina defense but bounced off the left post just six minutes in.
“Tonight we played beyond the expectations of what everybody else thinks we can do,” Ciornei said. “We played within the confines of the game that we played and gave ourselves a chance. I feel like we improved tremendously just in our character as a team today.”
The Bees held an 11-2 shots-on-goal advantage for the rest of the half, though the game went into intermission scoreless.
“I thought we played well. We created a lot of chances and, on a different night, we would have been more productive in the attacking third and it would have been a different game,” Medina coach Simon Spelling said. “Credit to Highland. They defended very well.”
Bees midfielder Steven Samuelson drew a red card with two minutes left in the game for a tackle against Hornets midfielder Christian Heini.
Medina 1, Highland 0
MEDINA 0 1 — 1
HIGHLAND 0 0 — 0
M — Josh Cabacungan (Gavin Csiszar), 18:03.
Shots on goal — Medina 13, Highland 5. Corner kicks — Highland 4, Medina 3. Saves — Ben Petersen (H) 12, Brendan Delac (M) 3, Jacob Vogrin (M) 2. Records — Medina (3-0-1), Highland (1-3). Junior varsity — Medina 8, Highland 2.