BROADVIEW HEIGHTS - When Lakeview coach Nate Mailach substituted off his three senior captains in the 75th minute, A.J. Miller pulled his jersey over his face and put his hands on his head.
The senior midfielder and the Bulldogs fell short once again in the regional semifinal, this time dominated by Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy 4-1 Wednesday night.
Mailach said CVCA was just too much for the Bulldogs.
Tribune Chronicle / Dave Dermer
Lakeview’s Evan Olbrych (8) creates space between himself and CVCA’s Sammy Meszaros (10). CVCA won, 4-1.
"Our goal was to play in November," he said. "We're a couple hours short. We wanted to get to that next game, but we ran into a juggernaut tonight. Those guys are as good as any team that I have ever seen."
From the start, the Royals (13-6) controlled the match, having most of the possession and creating most of the chances. CVCA players won most of the 50-50 balls, and the midfielders passed as though a string wound between them.
This led to the Bulldogs (18-2) chasing for much of the match, which affected the offense. Potent for most of the season, the Lakeview offense struggled to find its rhythm, creating one only goal-scoring chance in the first 40 minutes - an Austin Olbrych shot in the 33rd minute that went just wide on the counterattack.
CVCA 4, Lakeview 1
CVCA (13-6)13 - 4
Lakeview (18-2) 01 -1
Goals: CVCA Ben Locke 2, Collin Surface, Hayden Kaiser; Lakeview Austin Olbrych.
Assists: CVCA Sammy Meszaros, Locke; Lakeview none.
Saves: CVCA Chad Prtenjak 2; Lakeview Clay Becker 4.
"They got to every single loose ball," Mailach said. "Every ball that they kicked ended up at one of their players' feel. It was like they were playing with 13 guys out there. We just couldn't keep up with that."
Despite struggling in the first 40 minutes, Lakeview found itself down only one goal coming out of halftime, but the Bulldogs couldn't hold off the Royals much longer.
Two goals by CVCA in a three-minute span put the match out of reach. In the 51st minute, Ben Locke scored off a shot from 15 yards away, while two minutes later, Collin Surface took a ball that bounced off Clay Becker's hands and blasted home another goal.
After that, CVCA took it foot off the gas pedal, which allowed the Bulldogs to start putting together some consecutive passes and to create dangerous plays.
Lakeview managed to pull a goal back in the 54th minute, when Olbrych put the rebound from a Colin Ainsley chip shot that bounced off the crossbar into the back of the net.
"I was playing a little far up forward, and (coach) said just stay up there," Olbyrch said. "(Anisley) shot it off the post, and I'm right there to follow. I was worried the goalie might stop it But it went in."
Even with the goal, though, it was too late for the Bulldogs to make a comeback, with CVCA adding another in the 66th minute on a counterattack.
"We didn't really start playing until we got down three goals," Mailach said. "By then, it was too little, too late."
The loss marked the end of five senior's playing careers, including goalkeeper Clay Becker, defenders Jacob Colbrunn and Frank Toncar and midfielders Jake Young and Miller.
Although these players played a huge role in the team's success, Mailach said the team will still look forward to going this far next year.
"I've got 17 guys coming back next year," he said. "So, we should be loaded to make another run, hopefully."