Defense helps Bulldogs defeat Strongsville
Olmsted Falls boys soccer team’ stingy defense corralled the Mustangs, 2-0, and gave coach James Walchanowicz his 200th career victory with the Bulldogs.
Olmsted Falls used a heavy dose of defense against Strongsville on Sept. 16 to stuff the Mustangs’ attack. The Bulldogs came away with a 2-0 victory and gave head coach James Walchanowicz his 200th career victory with the program.
Moments after shaking hands with the Strongsville players, a group of Olmsted Falls seniors, led by goalie Shelby Edwards, quickly snuck to the sidelines to grab the ice-water bucket before giving Walchanowicz the most mean-
ingful Gatorade shower of his career to celebrate the milestone.
Walchanowicz thought back to taking over at a time when the team didn’t have practice jerseys.
“The one thing that just amazes me, I was sitting thinking about this today at home and this was my 11th year here. And when I took the program over at Olmsted Falls, teams would say we brought our JV B-team when the game gets out of hand,” Walchanowicz said. “Things have turned and I think we areastate caliber team, would not want to be anywhere else other than here with these guys. It’s an honor and a privilege and to do it here with these guys, I couldn’t ask for anything else.”
Edwards, who finished with his seventh clean sheet of the season in the win, said the night was unforgettable.
“It means a lot because Walchanowicz is one of the best coaches I’ve ever had, and he’s had my back since Day 1. He set me up with hundreds of opportunities,” Edwards said. “To give him this opportunity is one of the things I’ll never forget and hopefully he’ll never forget too.”
Senior Ryan Wikle, whose second-half goal put the match out of reach, said he was proud his senior group got to help deliver the big win in the midst of one of the best seasons the school has had.
“He’s a special coach, man. He’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever had with the passion he has for winning and he’s so committed to the program,” Wikle said. “It’s incredible, he really deserves it.”
Before the celebration, the Bulldogs had a job to do.
Olmsted Falls kept the offensive pressure up thanks to the defense keeping the ball far away from the Bulldogs’ end of the field.
“I think our offensive pressure starts with our defensive pressure, and as long as we stay within our scheme and play our defensive system, we’re going to give ourselves opportunities to win the ball back, possess it, knock it around and then go forward,” Walchanowicz said. “That’s a thing we talk about every single day and every game before we come out is play team defense. If we play hard-nose team defense, we’re going to get some good opportunities and we win the ball back, find the open man, next man up and go.”
Vocal all night in the goal, Edwards’ night was made easy by the defense as he made three solid saves to keep the Mustangs off the scoreboard.
“My defense is one of the best attributes of this team,” Edwards said. “Every single game, they bail me out, and if they mess up, I bail them out. It’s one of those things where I only have to make a couple saves a game. They’re great with my two mid-backs, Chase Fernkorn and Alex Klek, second to none when it comes to stopping people. They do a lot for me and I do a lot for them.”
THE SCORE OLMSTED FALLS 2, STRONGSVILLE 0