Homer Central boys did a lot of things right in Thursday night’s OHSL Freedom National Division soccer match on Butts Field, but neighboring Cortland High gave them a dogfight until a three-minute span in the second half.
That’s when Scott Maus and Marton Tozser each found the goal to give the Trojans a 2-0 lead before they finally posted the 3-0 victory over their rivals.
Homer improves to 3-3 in the division and 4-4-1 overall. The Tigers drop to 0-5, 1-7 overall.
Homer controlled the opening 10 minutes, but could not put the ball in the goal. The Trojans were off the mark either high or wide or the Cortland defense would make a nice stop. Purple Tiger goalkeeper Josh Henry made all three of his saves during the first half to keep the game scoreless. Homer controlled the play, but the score stood at 0-0.
“Homer had a nice through ball and got the advantage,” Cortland coach Brian Rozewski said of Homer eventually taking the lead. “Our guys really played great, just a couple of mistakes hurt us.
“The guys have been playing hard all year,” he added. “Give Homer credit tonight, they played better.”
“We had good momentum the first 10 minutes of the game,” Homer coach Dick O’Shea said. “We stopped passing the ball and that hurt us. We came out to start the second half moving the ball better. We kept possession in our end of the field and that’s all it took.
“Our guys in the middle really controlled the game when they passed the ball,” he continued. “Nothing could interfere with them controlling the game. The defense did play well too. They got back quickly and kept the ball in front of them. They did a good job on stopping any counterattacks.”
“We always try to come out on fire,” Tozser said. “It is frustrating to not get that final touch, but the coaches always motivate us at halftime and help pick us up to get our heads back in the game.”
HOMER CAME OUT with more intensity to start the second half. Riley McEvoy missed a point-blank shot off a direct kick in the second minutes of the half. Tozser missed and one-touch wide to the right and Henry made a great grab of a crossing pass with Tozser right next to him.
The Trojans finally got on the board with 33:09 left in the second half. Scott Maus took a through ball from Ben Herman and dribbled through a couple of defenders. Henry came out to challenge and Maus was able to roll the ball inside the left post for the 1-0 lead.
“It was a good through ball from Ben and I finished with a shot into the lower left corner,” Maus said of his fourth goal this season. “Our passing has been getting a lot better each game. We are working the ball through the defense more.”
That goal opened the door as a penalty kick was awarded with 30:47 to go as a Trojan was taken down in the box. Tozser took the PK and ripped it shoulder high inside the left post.
“Scott got a great ball from Ben for that first goal,” Tozser said. “We got lucky to get the penalty kick rather quickly. It was a penalty and I was able to convert. That was huge for the team.
It was all Homer the rest of the way except for a couple Cortland threats. Will Pace hit a header wide with 23 minutes left was the best of two shots. Trojan goalkeeper Cody Wagner stopped the one shot on frame.
On a two-on-one break, Marcus Karam found the net off a nice touch pass from Tozser with 9:02 remaining for the final Trojan goal. It was the sophomore’s second goal of the season.
AS FOR GETTING back to .500 after the 1-4-1 start with three straight wins?
“We’ve made a few mistakes in some of the losses,” Maus said. “We haven’t played good for a full game at times. We just gave up some late goals in those earlier games.”
“We started out a little slow,” Tozser said. “We have a new coach and a new formation, but we have worked great as a team. We have figured that formation out and working well with it. We have 21 guys on the team and every single guy is capable of fitting in. As a team, we have made great progress.”
“Having the defense together and organized after losing Ethan Laundry has been good,” O’Shea said. “It took some time to adjust, but they have been well. We see how it goes as we now play some stronger teams again.”
Both Cortland and Homer will return to Freedom Division action Tuesday. The Trojans travel to Auburn for a 4:30 p.m. match. The Purple Tigers will host Fulton at 7 p.m.
CORTLAND JVs scored two late goals and Trevor Jubran kept host Homer off the board as the Purple Tigers were 2-0 winners. Cortland improves to 4-1-3 overall. Homer drops to 2-8.
“It was a really exciting game,” Homer coach Chad Totman said. “Both teams had great opportunities where we both hit posts and just missed wide or high with shots. I felt like we had the majority of the play the first half and they had the majority of the play the second half. We only had two subs today which wore us down the second half.”
Trevor Jubran made five saves for the clean sheet while Ethan Lunas kept Homer alive for 69 minutes and finished with 10 saves.
Nick Litzenberger gave Cortland a 1-0 lead in the 70th minute of play. It was 10 minutes later when Adam Jubran found the back of the net with a big insurance goal.
Both teams will be back in action Tuesday. Cortland will host Fulton at 5 p.m. while Homer will travel to Auburn for a 4:30 match.