Anthony Wayne did not officially clinch a Northern Lakes League championship with a 1-0 shutout victory over Northview yesterday at Timberstone Junior High.
But the No. 5 ranked Generals moved one step closer by turning back the No. 6 Wildcats in a match dominated by defense.
Brandon Bucher scored his eighth goal of the season off an assist from Tim Green in the 38th minute to account for the lone goal of the night.
"We're a pretty good team," Bucher said. "We show up to play in big games like this. We're a team and we work hard and work together."
The highly ranked Generals (10-1-2, 5-0 NLL) came into the pivotal NLL meeting with the Wildcats (8-1-2, 2-1-1) well-seasoned to deal with a quality opponent. They were coming off winning the prestigious Strongsville soccer tournament over the weekend.
"This is a great win for our kids," AW coach Tom Shook said. "They played their hearts out. Northview is a good team and it was a good physical game."
AW defender Travis Baltz, who deflected a Northview shot at goal late in the second half, expected nothing less than a competitive match from their league rivals.
"They've a good team deserving of their No. 6 ranking," Baltz said. "We knew we had to show up and play."
Baltz said the game with Northview meant plenty even without it representing a meeting between two of the top teams in the state.
"Rankings are just something on a piece of paper," Baltz said. "The game is played on the field."
Northview coach Ryan Creech credited the Generals for a solid effort. He also feels the Wildcats, who recorded 18 shots on goal compared to 7 for the Generals, didn't make the most of their opportunities.
"It was a good match but I think we were the better team tonight," Creech said. "We just couldn't put the ball in the net."
Creech added: "We had more chances to score but none of that really matters unless you put the ball in the net."
AW goalie Matt Muntz came out unscathed after producing five saves against Northview. Muntz thinks the shutout is a testament to the team's overall performance.
"We pretty much played team defense," Muntz said. "It's a lot easier to do well when you have a good defense right around the goal."
The win places the Generals in the driver's seat for the league title. They're the only team in the NLL without a defeat or tie in league play with only two matches remaining.
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