By Jim Horvath
Westlake’s Dane Rimko was in the right place at the right time.
That was good for the Demons, not so good for host North Olmsted. The junior midfielder found himself all alone to the left of the Eagles’ goal, with the ball being deflected to him from teammates on the right.
The result? The only goal of the night as Westlake remained unbeaten with a 1-0 win in a key Southwestern Conference match Wednesday night.
With the win, the Demons moved to 7-0-2 on the season and 3-0-1 in the SWC race. The Eagles dropped their second match in a row to fall to 3-2-3 overall and 2-1-1 in the league.
“It was a typical match with these teams. It’s usually one goal here, one goal there that makes the difference, so you throw the records out,” said Westlake head coach Mike Besu. “We got the lucky bounce tonight.
“I thought we were a little overanxious on offense,” Besu said. “There were times where we were trying to do a little too much. But I can’t be more proud. We’ve had our backs against the wall this season with injuries, but these guys keep playing hard.
“Hey, we’ve gotta believe. We’re still a very talented team,” he added.
Westlake, already down three starters this season, lot another defender in practice Monday when senior Tim Andrews injured an ankle. North Olmsted finally got their senior All-Ohio player, Josh Sandoval, back on the pitch Wednesday night, but his playing time was limited to about six minutes in the second half.
About a minute after he left the field, the Demons broke the scoreless tie at the 32:26 mark when Rimko hit the back of the net on his backside opportunity.
“We actually had a chance to pin them on the side,” said Eagles head coach Chris Marsh. “We had him there, but we let the ball get sent back to the middle. The kid made. Nice decision and saw he had three guys on the right to our one.
“We still had a chance to clear the ball out, but we didn’t,” Marsh said. “We missed a lot of clearouts tonight. Offensively, we didn’t string any passes together, and they were there, they were open. We just made bad decision after bad decision.
“And there were so many times tonight that we’d let the ball bounce instead of toe possession,” he said. “We put ourselves under continuous pressure by not playing the ball. We just didn’t possess the ball, especially in the first half…
“That was nightmarish,” Marsh added.
Westlake had eight shots on goal compared to just two for the Eagles. North Olmsted keeper Nolan Escher was busy most of the night and wound up with seven saves. Westlake had four corner kicks to North Olmsted’s two.
Westlake is off until it hosts North Royalton next Wednesday night. North Olmsted must regroup as the Eagles host Toledo area powerhouse Sylvania Southview Saturday night.