By Ryan Kaczmarski
Westlake went into Saturday’s contest needing a win to capture its first Southwestern Conference boys soccer title since 2009.
The Demons (10-2-2) did not disappoint, as the Demons cruised to an 8-1 victory over Midpark High School.
The game started ominously for the Meteors, as the Demons went up 1-0 on an own-goal by Midpark, followed by a hat trick by senior midfielder Nick Wertman. After Midpark scored its lone goal with 26:59 left in the first half, the Demons added another hat trick (by Mark Sutcliffe) and a goal by Brian Sutcliffe to cap the scoring in the game.
“Obviously, Nick Wertman and Sean Bigley (on defense) are the team leaders,” Westlake head coach Mike Besu said.
Besu told the team after the victory that they had three goals this season, and the first one had now been accomplished. The first goal was to win the SWC, now they are on their journey to grab the second goal of a district title and then on to the third goal of making the regional finals.
“We kind of came with the mind set that we can’t just sit back and let (Midpark) score,” Bigley, a Demons team captain, said. “They’ve been scoring a few goals this year. We knew that they would score if we gave them a chance.
“We came into this game knowing that we have to come out (playing) hard, and we had to come ready, or else.”
It seems like every year the Demons are in contention for the conference title, but they have not made it over the hump until now.
“It’s an awesome feeling,” Bigley said of the conference championship. “All the hard work we put into the season – all the extra practices we’ve been doing and the extra running – we feel like it’s finally paying off. It’s really exciting.
“We have to keep pushing at practice every day,” he added. “We need to push ourselves to get better and go further. We have to have the mind set that we can go far (into the postseason). We have to believe in each other and ourselves.”
The Demons will finish off the regular season this week, and will make the push into the postseason, but Besu does not have worries about any particular opponent.
“It all depends where we get seeded,” he said. “You still have some teams from the conference. You also have Strongsville and Avon, so we’re just worried about finishing (the regular season) strong.”
The Demons will face Olmsted Falls in the first round of the playoffs at home on Oct. 20 at 7 p.m.