Submitted by Brian Elniski
Rochester Elite Soccer Academy
In one of the most competitive Lew Port alumni soccer games in recent memory, the Evens and Odds fought to a 3-3 draw before 50 appreciative fans on Saturday, Sept. 15 at Blakeslee Stadium in Youngstown.
Prior to kickoff, the game shaped up as a test between the youth of the Even squad and the experience of the Odd team. From the opening kick the Evens dominated the first half, controlling possession and spending most of the half attacking the resolute Odd defense. And in the seventh minute this pressure paid dividends when Joe Novak (Class of '86), freed down the right side by Stephanie Lozzi (Class of '08), hit a low screamer from a sharp angle that handcuffed keeper Don Felice (Class of '89), bouncing off his hands into the net to give the Evens an early 1-0 lead.
The opening goal from Novak, the all-time leading alumni scorer, seemed to energize the Evens. They pressured the Odd goal relentlessly, with Felice saving well from John Netter (Class of '10), who released on a nice pass from Jim Alessi (Class of '88). Seven minutes later Netter blasted a shot over the crossbar from 15 yards out, and three minutes after that Dave Vitch (Class of '80) shot over the bar from a similar position.
In the 33rd minute Curtis Dorian (Class of '04) hit a left-footed rocket from 20 yards out that Gary Rose (Class of '83) blocked. Two minutes later Brian Elniski (Class of '80) had yet another excellent scoring chance, but his shot from the bubble of the penalty sailed wide. Less than 30 seconds later Netter was sent in alone by Dylan Duncan (Class of '12), but Felice made an excellent one-on-one save to keep the margin at one.
After winning a corner in the 39th minute, the Odds, against the run of play, leveled. Mark Niccola (Class of '93) sent a perfect cross to the far post where David Brodie (Class of '05) blasted a header past keeper Libby Broderick (Class of '90) at the near post to make the score 1-1. This goal, on the Odds' first shot on net, sent them into halftime with all the momentum. After being dominated for the entire first half, the Odds were back in the game.
It took only seven minutes after the break for the Odds to take their first lead. Rose sent a pinpoint cross into the penalty area that Niccola tapped in from five yards out, and suddenly the Odds were ahead, 2-1. The Odd goal seemed to energize the Even squad, who mounted a furious assault on the Odd goal that was culminated by Dorian's equalizer from 12 yards out in the 58th minute.
Again, the Odds fought back. Two minutes after Dorian's equalizer the Odds took the lead back, when Ken Tewsley (Class of '89) rose high at the far post to meet Mark Mielke's (Class of '87) cross with another header that gave the Odds a 3-2 lead.
Once again, the Evens responded almost immediately. Felice made an excellent reaction save on Vitch's deflection from five yards out, but five minutes later he was left defenseless when Dorian provided Netter with a low cross in the box that Netter slotted into the net to tie the match at 3-3.
Energized by the equalizer, the younger legs of the Even squad were once again controlling play. Duncan was sent in alone in the 74th minute, but again Felice made a crucial save. Three minutes later it was Duncan again, on a pass from Novak, who blasted an open shot from 16 yards out over the crossbar.
With less than a minute to play, Brodie was brought down on the edge of the penalty area. Referee Kelly Besaw (Class of '79) quickly ruled out a penalty kick, pointing instead to a spot a foot outside the box. With the wall in place, Justin Sims (Class of '05) ripped a shot around the wall that was headed for the corner, but keeper Broderick dove to her right and palmed the ball away, preserving the tie on the last kick of the game.
The second consecutive draw - last year's match finished 1-1 - left the Odds leading in the series, 11-6-6. But in a match dominated in large chunks by the Evens, Odds keeper Felice was named the game's Most Valuable Player. He had 15 saves, including three from point-blank range that kept his Even squad in the game.