Niles has its shots, but Champion gets the win

Tribune Chronicle / Marc Weems Champion’s Garek Deer, left, tries to hold off Niles’ Casey Flynn in a challenge during Friday’s game in Niles. The Golden Flashes won, 2-1.

NILES — Despite a huge discrepancy in shots on goal, the Champion Golden Flashes boys soccer team defeated the Niles Red Dragons, 2-1.

The first was all about Niles (0-1) as it controlled the ball in its offensive zone for a lot of the time. Unfortunately for them, it never resulted in a goal despite getting close several times.

“We controlled and possessed the whole game. Sometimes the ball goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t,” Niles coach Greg Miller said. “My assessment of this game was possession and attack was Niles’ way. We had great ball skills and moved all around the field. We just didn’t connect with the net.”

On Champion’s side, especially in the first half, goalkeeper Andrew Russell was great. He saved 12 of 13 shots on goal from Niles in the game, including a few pretty tough ones.

“They scored off of their PK (penalty kick). They are a pretty aggressive team. We are trying to collectively transition out and passing. That’s what we worked on tonight during the game,” Champion coach Shawn Varley said. “It’s a learning process. I spent 15 years at Lakeview with the girls, but this is my first time coaching boys. I’m really enjoying it.”

In the second half, Champion found its way. After about 10 minutes passed in the second half, Michael Fassnacht scored to give the Golden Flashes a 1-0 lead.

“You spend all summer trying to get them to buy into your program,” Varley said. “It’s crucial to come out and get that win. It reinforces that the ideas that you have as a head coach are worthwhile.”

Varley said before he took the job he knew who Russell was, and he knew what he was getting with his starting goalie.

Not so long after Fassnacht’s goal, Aaron Ellsworth scored on a close shot to give the Golden Flashes a 2-0 lead.

“We stayed in the game and battled,” Miller said. “We tried to get back into the game and we did with the penalty shot. It was a great game. A couple of set pieces and we were down. They know they played and they know they did everything right. To the coaches standards, they did everything right.”

With 7:58 left in the second half, Niles’ Joe Wolfe scored to cut the score in half at 2-1.

The Red Dragons continued to outplay Champion in their zone, but couldn’t find the back of the net twice.

“It just not go your way,” Miller said. “At least the scoreboard doesn’t go your way. The game may but the scoreboard doesn’t. They had zero shots on goal. To their credit, they found a way to win and they won it.”