United gets another shot at district title
HANOVERTON — United combined an outstanding offensive performance by freshman standout Maddox Andrea with an air-tight defensive effort to post a 3-0 shutout of Burton Berkshire in a Division III district semifinal boys’ soccer match played before a large and spirited Golden Eagles’ home crowd on Tuesday night.
The victory vaults the sixth-seeded Golden Eagles (13-3-1) into Saturday’s Div. III district championship against top-seeded Kirtland at 11 a.m. at Streetsboro High School. Kirtland advanced Tuesday with a 7-1 win over Cuyahoga Heights. United will be making its third appearance in a boys soccer district final in school history.
“2017 was the last time we went to a district final and the seniors on this team were ball boys at that time, so they watched that team go on to regionals,” said a pleased United coach Curtis Jones. “At the beginning of the year, we set goals and every single one of them set a goal to either return to the district final game or hopefully win a district final game.”
Meanwhile, Berkshire bows out with a 10-7-2 record.
“We have four seniors on this team and when I started they were freshmen and it (saying goodbye) is tough,” said Berkshire coach Nick Fejedelem. “This is the best season that we’ve ever had in boys’ soccer history, this is the furthest we’ve gone, it’s the best record we’ve had and it’s something good to build on. It’s just sad that the run is over.”
United left little doubt it was district final bound against Berkshire Tuesday as the Golden Eagles were the aggressor throughout the match. The final shots on goal tell the story. The Golden Eagles had 13 shots on goal while holding the Badgers to five and only one in the second half.
Jones loved the Golden Eagles’ defensive effort throughout the night.
“Our back line, I think, is one of the best back lines in the area,” praised the United mentor. “We studied some film (on Berkshire), how they attack, how they try to move the ball up and we were prepared for it.”
Offensively, the night belonged to United freshman Maddox Andrea, who led the Golden Eagles with two of their three goals. Sophomore Wyatt Medure added the other United goal and also had two assists. Ethan Stout also had an assist.
Andrea, the son of former Mount Union football kicking great Bill Andrea, dazzled the fans with his footwork and non-stop energy. The crowd noise elevated every time the Golden Eagles worked the ball to Andrea in the scoring area.
“It feels amazing,” said Andrea of the Eagles’ district final qualification. “This team is great and it finally came together. We have a lot of talent on this team and we did something with it.”
The first half was played predominantly on the Berkshire half of the field as the Golden Eagles had the Badgers on the defensive.
“We worked the ball up the field and took care of our (scoring) chances,” said Jones.
United broke through when Andrea rifled in a shot from the left flank from 20 yards out, giving the Golden Eagles a 1-0 lead with 21:22 left on the first-half clock.
“Maddox is definitely one of the up and coming strikers in this area,” praised Jones. “If people don’t know his name they’re going to.”
Although just a freshman, dominating on a soccer field comes second nature to Andrea, who added, “I’ve been playing soccer for seven or eight years.”
The Golden Eagles then got some breathing room against Berkshire with 10:59 left in the opening half when Wyatt Medure drilled a ball into the Berkshire net as United went up 2-0.
The Golden Eagles added an insurance goal and the last one of the contest when Andrea, who has scored 26 goals this season and averages 1.4 goals per match, nailed a goal from straight on, compliments of an assist by Medure, to make it 3-0 with 6:26 remaining in the match.
“In the second half they put us under a lot more pressure than they did in the first half and we were ready for it,” explained Jones. “We made some formation adjustments.”
“We needed to keep the ball on the ground and it just wasn’t working out for us,” said Berkshire’s Fejedelem. “More shots equals more goals — it’s a simple equation there.”
“I can’t say enough about these boys,” praised Jones of his Eagles. “We’re a young team and props to our opponent tonight, they came in with a good game and were aggressive and physical and it was a good battle and I knew coming in it was going to be a challenge, it was a sixth seed against a ninth seed.”
Jones feels United’s strong regular-season schedule, loaded with larger schools such as D2 Salem, West Branch and East Liverpool, is paying dividends in the D3 tourney.
“We upped the difficulty of our schedule in preparation to getting ready (for the D3 postseason),” he said. “Last year, we had a good year in the regular season and we came in and we got upset against Wickliffe here at home and so all these boys didn’t want a repeat of that. This is a great moment because we set that goal to get back to the district final.”
United goalkeeper Ethan Hively had four saves for the winners.
Jones can’t wait for Saturday’s district final.
“We’re going to be ready and we’re going to give them the best game that we can and I’m excited for Saturday morning,” he saidh.