At the end of the Stow-Brecksville contest Thursday night, Mike Taylor from the
Bees was sprawled out on his back in the grass. Stow stood on their
feet, and for a moment it would seem as though the Bulldogs were
moving on in the playoffs. Instead, it was Taylor and his home team
Brecksville who took the match, and after a brief celebration period
Taylor appeared hurt.
Taylor had just moments before put a dagger in the Bulldogs' heart. Just
moments before Brecksville tied up the game after Stow was up a
comforting three goals going into the fourth quarter. Just moments
before the Bees stormed out strong into the overtime period, and
Taylor put the nail in the coffin by scoring in the sudden death
For the 17 seniors on the Stow team, and for everyone else in attendance,
the shock was rattling. It almost seemed impossible that the Bees
could win; the hosts were shut out of the third quarter and sophomore
goalie Ryan Kevern was stopping nearly all of Brecksville's 42 shots.
At the start time, seven p.m., nobody knew that the game was going to be
such a nail-biter. The match would be the historic home playoff
opener for Brecksville, who had never hosted such a game at the "Bee
Hive." But Stow was no stranger to John Falko's team. After all,
the two teams were eerily similar--two young goalies with promise,
10-4 records and both with the ultimate goal to win.
"[The win] against Brecksville...would be incredible," head coach
Brett Sinning said before the game. "We lost to them last year
in a very aggressive and emotional game, one that left us stunned."
Stunned. That would be the only word to describe the 2-0 lead Brecksville
jumped out to within four minutes of the game. Senior Kyle Mossor
started off rough in the outing, passing into multiple takeaways that
led to Brecksville goals. Stow would strike next, keeping the game
close with a Kyle Foens goal. Jim Griggs wheeled his way around
defenders to tie up the game at two apiece, with over six minutes
left in the first.
Brecksville did pull out another goal in the quarter, but so did Stow as Jordan
Manella managed his first goal of the contest to, once again, tie the
The Bulldogs were the first ones to touch the ball in the second quarter
due to a series of Brecksville penalties, but were knocked around by
the overwhelming Bees defense. In the meanwhile, Stow's defense began
to finally look sharp as seniors Jeremy Light and Josh Crews were
able to push the Brecksville attacks to the outside and even force a
few steals. Anything that did get past the wall of the defense,
Kevern stopped, minus the goal he allowed with 7:11 to play.
As mentioned briefly before, Kevern was not the only goalie with game on
the field Thursday night. Brecksville sophomore Doug Robie made stops
when he had the chance, and he had triple-digit saves by the end of
the regular season this year. That was not going to stop senior Ryan
Green from taking advantage of an open look, when he tied the game
yet again, 4-4. Here the score would remain until the second half.
In the third quarter, Manella gave Stow their first lead of the day,
putting the ball into the net a minute into the half. Brian Dureiko
would flick the ball out to Nick Griggs, and he would score on Robie,
making it 6-4 Stow. Jim Griggs was not to be outdone by his brother,
and he scored just minutes later.
Matt DeBlois knocked around a Bees attack who tried to score on Kevern,
and the defense did not allow another goal for the third quarter.
Jim Griggs would make his final goal of the night and of his high school
career in the fourth quarter. It seemed as though with the
combination of renewed energy from the offense, a stifling defense
and a shut-down goalie, the Bulldogs would be moving on to play
Jackson in the next round.
Everything fell apart.
Kevern let a goal slip between the pipes with seven minutes to play, and the
Brecksville student section began to get louder. The Stow offense
tried to regain their cushion, but with each missed shot came a Bees
goal, and with 1:06 left in the game, the Bees magically tied the
game in an unbelievable comeback.
Sudden death overtime did not serve well for Kevern, as he and the defense
allowed the Taylor goal that sent Stow back home empty-handed. For
the seniors, this was it; the season ended on one single goal.
The future for Stow is nothing to overlook; yes, the Bulldogs are losing
a lot of senior leadership, yes, the team will need a variety of
players to step into roles that they have never seen before, and yes,
teams in the area continue to get better and better as more students
learn the game of lacrosse. Yet Stow has every opportunity to make a
statement next season, and hopefully one that ends differently than
the heartbreaker Thursday night.
Sinning said, “Our team is playing with inspiration and heart, something
that can't be stopped by another team. Our team and bond right now is
far too strong to break.”