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Tigers suffer first loss of year in 3-0 decision

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes Newton Falls goalkeeper Mac Haidet makes a save during Wednesday's contest against Crestview

NEWTON FALLS — The first 15 to 20 minutes of a match can really set the tone for the entire course of an evening. Neither Newton Falls or Crestview fancy themselves as teams that start contests strong, but whoever scored first was going to have the momentum.

On Wednesday, it was Crestview that struck first.

Crestview senior Nick Novak found a pass from Will Welch and beat the defense, sinking the ball in a near-empty net midway through the first half. What followed was a hat trick performance and a 3-0 road shutout at Newton Falls, as the Rebels handed the Tigers their first loss of the season.

“I knew the good talent (Newton Falls) had this year, all that comes together and they’re a good team,” said Crestview coach Riley Mackall. “I felt that we controlled the game a lot. We played really good soccer, we moved the ball around from top to bottom. I wish we would have got it out wider and passed the ball in, but all credit to Mac Haidet, he’s their defensive backbone.”

Haidet tallied 33 saves for Newton Falls, having an extremely busy evening, but the Tigers attacked the Crestview defense early and often, just finding themselves short of the net.

Once the Rebels shook off some of the rust, their offense began to flow more after Novak broke the tie. They’d pepper the Tigers defense through much of the match with Novak always finding himself near the goal area.

He found himself in a position to attempt a pair of penalty kicks, converting both opportunities.

“That was a good team, we had to move the ball well against them and have good passing,” Novak said. “It made it us just play soccer a little better and we were really winning a lot of 50/50 balls, that helped us. After the first 15-20 minutes if we keep it 0-0, that’s what we like, we can move on from there and see if we can have some success offensively.”

Novak is still searching for his 100th career assist following the victory, currently sitting at 99.

The clean sheet was also the first for Crestview (5-4-2) all season. Their only other performance where they surrendered less than two goals was in an 8-1 rout of Jackson-Milton on the road.

Sophomore goalkeeper Braden Devine played well in the net, but gave credit to his defense.

“Well, to be honest, our defense was on top of their game today pretty much all day,” Devine said. “Our offense, as we got through the game, they got stronger and stronger so that definitely helped out. We came out with a lot of confidence, especially wanting to beat this team that’s been doing pretty good this season.

“Sometimes we need to work on staying composed because in other games earlier this season, we’ve kinda just stopped playing that’s led to late goals.”

Overall, Mackall was happy to walk away with a tough road win, crediting Novak for his heads-up play on the attack.

“He would have loved to have an assist, but we did what we had to do, and he knows when to go,” Mackall said.

The Tigers (7-1-1-) hit a bump in the road for the first time, finding themselves without a score for the first time all season. They posted their lowest scoring effort since a 1-1 draw with West Branch.

Regardless, Newton Falls coach Kassi Gant knew Wednesday evening wasn’t going to be easy for her team.

“Honestly, we just need to play smarter, better ball movement, keep it on the ground, we don’t need to play kickball,” Gant commented. “We tend to come out a little slow then pick up in the second half and I think we came out harder than we normally do today, but it just wasn’t enough.

“We knew it was going to be a battle, we thought it was going to be a physical game and we prepared as best as we could for that, we just got to go to work.”

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