Genoa soccer wins outright Northern Buckeye title

J. Patrick Eaken

By J. Patrick Eaken

Press Sports Editor


Genoa boys soccer clinched the outright Northern Buckeye Conference championship with a 6-2 win over Lake Thursday night, sparking a postgame celebration.

“It’s surreal honestly,” said Genoa junior forward Aiden Hemmert. “I didn’t think we had it in us in the beginning of the year, but it became clear that we did. The little guys (underclassmen), they came through big. They were able to adapt to our play system and they just fit in real well.”

Junior forward Ethan Wilson added, “It’s honestly the greatest feeling ever,” Wilson said. “I never imagined that this would be how it turned out. I was really nervous coming into the game, but once it started I got the feel for it. It was great. I just loved it.”

Genoa coach Tim Memmer told his players that the hard work they put in was finally paying off.

 “You can tell how a season is going to go by what goes on in the preseason, and even with everything going on this year, all of these guys were here. They were working every single day on it. I think the only time anybody missed was because they were on vacation,” Memmer said. “The miles they put in, the work they put in, the dedication they put in, and their love for each other in the game paid off.”

The problem for Genoa entering that game was that the Flyers defeated the Comets in their first match-up, 5-4, as sophomore midfielder Kaiden Reed, senior forwards Jayden Berlin and Aidan Wamer (penalty kick), senior defenseman Nolan Nowicki and freshman midfielder Jack Gladieux scored for the Flyers. Lake assists were by Berlin, Wamer and Gladieux. Luke Heebsh had 10 saves for Lake.

The winning goal came in the final 30 seconds, and on Senior Night Thursday, Wamer, Berlin and midfielder Drew Plummer said that was the highlight of their careers. It was Genoa’s only league loss.

“The first game it was kind of frustrating going down 3-1, and at the very end we started to gain some traction and come back. Just at that very last second they got that one on us. It was great to get it back on them,” Wilson said.

Fast forward to Thursday night at Lake Community Stadium, and the Flyers were playing without three starters, including Berlin, a prospective collegiate player. It didn’t help that Heebsh became the Flyers’ fourth casualty after getting hurt and leaving the game just over six minutes into the second half. Heebsh had seven saves and his replacement, sophomore Holden Wodrich had three.

“Some of it is the timing of whom you play and when you play them,” Memmer said. “They had some significant players out tonight so that really made a difference. It would have been a much different game if they were full strength. The first time they got us after a hard game, so we were a little bit out of gas in that game. It took us awhile to get some energy going for us.”  

However, Genoa plastered the Flyers the second time around, outshooting Lake 17-6 and taking a 4-0 lead with just over 30 minutes remaining in the game.

Genoa sophomore forward Griffin Meyer scored twice and Wilson, Hemmert, junior midfielder Evan Hoeft (PK) and senior defender Drake Hamilton scored one goal apiece. Hemmert had two assists and Wilson and Meyer had one each. Senior Tyler Welsh and freshman Tyler Harper combined to get four saves minding the net. Hamilton’s first goal of the season came on a 30-foot shot with 14:46 remaining.

“When you see Drake score, how excited everybody got about that — it’s a tremendous group of boys,” Memmer said.

 For the Flyers, Wamer had both goals with Reed getting both assists. However, the Comets had Hamilton key on Wamer to keep him in check.

“We had a little midfield plan to help,” Memmer said. “Aidan is a handful to take care of. With players out, it allowed us to be able to stack them a little bit, so we were able to contain him a bit.”


On the way to clinching

The Comets are 11-3 overall and 8-1 in the NBC while Lake fell to 7-6-1 and 5-2-1. In the latest Northwest Ohio coaches’ poll, Genoa is the only NBC team ranked, at eighth, but both Lake and Eastwood (5-5-1, 3-4) were ranked earlier in the season. 

“Anytime you are playing league games, it’s always a great win for us,” Memmer said. “Any of those are great wins for us, and the two games with Eastwood, we have scored half their goals that they have given up this year in those two games. They are solid defensively, and they’ve given up 20 goals, and we’ve scored 10 of them (5-3, 5-1 Genoa wins). 

“We were ranked eighth and they were 10th (NW Ohio) when we played them the second time. We were fortunate enough to have to play Rossford when they were full strength both times. They are a little short on numbers this year, but they are one of the more dangerous teams scoring-wise and as much as we talk about how we attack, we defended very well and shut them out both times (3-0, 4-0),” Memmer continued.

“Two of the teams we’ve played have not lost since they played us — Oak Harbor (7-1 Genoa Galaxy Cup win) has not lost a game and we are one of their two losses and Edison (4-0 Genoa) only has one loss on the season and that was to us.


‘A perfect storm’

The Comets’ three front line players have combined for 155 points. Hemmert has 19 goals and 20 assists, Wilson has 18 goals and 12 assists and Meyer has 18 goals and 14 assists. 

In the first meeting against Lake, Wilson scored twice. Hemmert and Hoeft (nine goals, six assists) each added one goal. 

“Our attack has been pretty strong all year. We’ve been pretty solid on that aspect of it,” Memmert said. “Our three leading scorers, in talking with one coach, they are almost like a perfect storm that complement each other really well. 

“Part of what works for them, they all have quite a few assists. There is not a selfish bone in any of them. In fact, sometimes they are a little too unselfish and we wish they could do a little bit more on their own now and then. But they are really in the mentality it doesn’t matter who is getting the goal,” Memert continued.

“The fortunate thing is we score a lot of different ways, either on set plays or we run a play, from in the air or on the ground, flat outrunning people, so we’re not very one dimensional. We have multiple ways that we can adjust tactics to go on teams depending on what they try to do to stop us.”

Also contributing to scoring is sophomore midfielder Mike Lickert (two goals, three assists), sophomore forward Marcus Gladden (two goals) and senior forward Grant Loomis. 

In goal, senior Tyler Welsh rules, garnering 59 saves and a 1.65 goals against average. 

“Since I’ve been there that is the best goals-against average that we’ve had for a keeper. He’s way up there on save percentage,” Memmer said.

Welsh has also come out on the field and has two assists, plus he and freshman goalkeeper Tyler Harper (22 saves) have combined with the Genoa defense to produce five shutouts. The Comets have outscored their 13 opponents 77-32. 

The midfielders are young and also include sophomores Hunter Streight and Marcus Gladden and freshmen Nate Tipton, Matt Lickert, and Wyatt Steinmiller. 

“The main three on our midfield are busy guys. They cover a lot of ground. We’ve got two who are very intelligent on what they are doing, we have a freshman who is figuring it out, but he’s persistent,” Memmer said.

Other defenders include seniors Connor Brazelton, junior Ben Ford and sophomore Curtis Otto and freshman Noah Tipton. 

“It’s kind of odd on our end. Our athleticism is mainly in the front, but if you look at our defense, they can be unassuming, but they are highly intelligent defenders,” Memmer said.

“They use every bit of their ability and you can’t be prouder when you look at these guys who are playing beyond what most people would look at. Most of the games, like when we played Rossford last Thursday, and they got a shutout again and that is just ‘Wow,’” Memmer said.

Genoa soccer has been strong before, but it has taken a few years for Memmer to incorporate his style of play. 

“The first year I was there it was a whole lot of introduction of new stuff to them. They probably would have done really well had we had another year, but it was a new awakening to them. We started to get where old ideas have left and I have all the guys here are now ones that have been all the way through with me and none of them have had another high school coach. It’s starting to get that way,” Memmer said.

“A lot of these guys play club soccer, too, and that is helping it out, even though everything was an absolute mess this year (coronavirus pandemic), they still got a little bit of the winter in and a few tournaments in.” 





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