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Champion looks better in 2nd half against Falls

CHAMPION — Jeremy Bryner and Shawn Varley both thought it looked ugly. Bryner for the whole game. Varley just for the first half.

After a scoreless first half, Varley’s Champion boys soccer team scored a pair of goals to come away with a 2-0 victory over Bryner’s Newton Falls squad in All-American Conference play.

“They brought a more physical aspect of the game than we did,” Varley said. “I think our center sat really, really deep and that allowed them to have a lot of offensive attacks. We never got anything going. We made those adjustments and got our centers to push up (in the second half) and we got more scoring opportunities.”

Both teams had four shots on goal in the first half. Champion came close to breaking the scoreless drought when Preston Lefkowitz crashed the net on a throw-in that nearly snuck by Newton Falls goalkeeper Ethan Wolford at the 22:10 mark.

Bryner was a bit more direct when describing the woes of his Tigers.

“It comes down to execution and the fundamentals of the game,” Bryner said. “If you don’t execute the fundamentals, it’s hard to come away with a win. We wanted to move the ball around. We wanted to work the ball out. Everything needs to be fixed right now. We have a lot of work ahead of us.”

The Golden Flashes (6-3, 6-1) got onto the board less than 7 minutes into the second half when Aaron Ellsworth’s sliding goal got past Wolford.

“It was a hustle play,” Varley said. “That’s what it was and that’s what Aaron brings every game. He just hustles non-stop.”

The physicality and chippiness of the game were evident, so much so that the officials stopped play to have a meeting with players and coaches at the 31:29 mark of the first half.

“He wanted to calm everything down,” Varley said. “I think he did a good job of that. He calmed everything down after that little discussion. The teams went back to playing a more normal game.”

The second half also changed in that the Tigers (5-4-1, 1-3-1) were limited to two shots on goal while Champion had seven.

“It was pushing the centers up,” Varley said. “We did that and it t really slowed their momentum down. We got the ball wide and we were able to attack from the outside. That helped us.”

Still, despite those adjustments, the outcome was not sealed until Zach Toth’s goal with 5:32 left to play.

“We’ve been focusing on transitioning out as a team,” Varley said. “The first half was absolutely horrible. The second half, we achieved the goal we’d been working on in practice. It’s a young team. We have some upperclassmen that have been here for a while, but it is a really young team overall. I’m pleased with their development.”

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