Royals Victorious In Tournament Opener

Royals knock off Christos FC 2-1

INDEPENDENCE, OH (TM216) — The AFC Cleveland Royals grab a 2-1 win in the first round of the Hank Steinbrecher via a last-gasp combination between 90’ substitutes Reymar Klotchko and Ian Larson. The win sets up a cup final between the Royals and PDL club Michigan Bucks at Stan Skoczen Stadium June 3 at 7:30 pm.

AFC Cleveland got out to a quick start thanks to a 3’ Tom Beck goal after receiving a brilliant deep pass from Mike Derezic. Playing from ahead, the Royals kept pressure on their opponents and searched for a second against their Maryland-based opponents. Christos FC, who thrive in cup competitions, kept the Royals honest and nearly broke through with an equalizer on multiple occasions in the first half.

Christos FC would find their equalizer in the 61’ from forward Pete Caringi as the Royals were temporarily down a man with centerback Coletun Long receiving treatment for an apparent leg injury. The rest of the match involved end-to-end opportunities for both clubs, but it appeared the match would be decided in extra time as the score remained tied late in the 90’.

On the last few touches of the game, Larson was given the ball near the left endline before sending a hopeful cross into the box. Klotchko used his fresh legs to elevate above the Christos defense and head home the winning goal.

First Half Summary

Tom Beck put the Royals ahead in the 3’ with a clean shot past Christos goalkeeper Brad Benzing. Derezic saw his right winger making a blistering run down the right side and lobbed a leading ball which landed near the 18-yard line. Beck positioned himself between the ball and outside defender and used his first touch to put himself in a scoring area. Beck calmly drove his shot past Benzing.

Brian Potocnik started an opportunity by gaining possession deep in the Christos attacking end via a turnover and advanced possession for a counter attack opportunity in the 6’. The midfielder tried to play Ben Truax into space in front of goal, but the pass rolled beyond the reach of Truax and out of play.

Christos FC attacking mid Danny Baxter nearly tied the match in the 12’ after shooting from the right corner of the goal area. The shot was driven low across the face of goal, but drifted inches away from the left goalpost.

A Ryan Ware cross connected with Traux at the near post in the 17’. The forward managed a touch toward goal with the outside of his foot, but the attempt was easily corralled by Benzing.

Josh Taylor looked to score in the 22’ after the Royals conceded a free kick in a dangerous area. A short pass was played along the left wing and crossed into the box. The scuffle in the box resulted in an opportunity for Taylor, who kicked the ball into the net before realizing the assistant referee waved for offsides.

Baxter played a searching ball with the outside of the foot in the 23’ to a streaking Elton Joe, who zipped past the Royals defense and headed a shot wide left of the post.

Ware put an outstanding curled attempt from the top of the box in the 33’. The shot seemed destined for the top right corner before Benzing stretched to push the ball just over the crossbar.

The Royals had another opportunity to score in the 45’ when Admir Suljevic played Beck through into the box. Beck used a spin move to beat an initial defender, then launched a shot that was blocked by another Christos defender. Ware moved in for a secondary shot, but also saw his shot blocked by the swarming Christos defense.

Second Half Summary

Jordan Becker put the Royals under pressure immediately in the second half with a cross that nearly connected with forward Pete Caringi. Royals goalkeeper Alex Ivanov dove forward to punch the ball away from trouble.

AFC Cleveland countered with a chance of their own minutes later as Truax found Beck alone on the right wing. Beck took a couple dribbles along the endline before squaring a pass across the face of goal. Despite the traffic in front of goal, the ball was not met by an attacker for a shot.  

Royals defender Coletun Long left the pitch in the 57’ with an apparent leg injury, but returned to the game in the 62’ to bring the home side back to full strength.

In the meantime, Christos FC used the man advantage to find an equalizer in the 61’. Pete Caringi finished a pass from Levi Houapeu that was lofted over the shorthanded AFC Cleveland defense.

Tom Beck once again generated an opportunity along the right side, dribbling towards goal and locating Suljevic alone less than 10 yards from goal. The captain’s shot went well over the bar and out of play.

The home crowd erupted in the 77’ with appeals for a penalty kick when right back Chris Cvecko was knocked down in the box, but no foul was given by the head referee.

As the Royals continued to roam freely along the right flank, Cvecko once again found Suljevic near the penalty mark in the 79’. Suljevic attempted a headed shot towards goal, but saw the shot sail just above the crossbar.

AFC Cleveland was sure they had gotten the late go-ahead goal from a counter attack in the 82’. Substitute Dan Koniarczyk advanced possession deep into the attacking third before laying the ball to Truax, who took a dribble past Saunders and looked to finish in front of an open net. The shot was incredibly blocked by a Christos defender at the goalline, denying the clear chance.

Reymar Klotchko had barely been on the pitch for a minute before burying the game-winning goal off a cross from left-back Ian Larson, another 90’ substitute, which effectively ended Christos’ hopes for a cup final appearance.

With the late winner, AFC Cleveland earned a spot in the June 3 Hank Steinbrecher Cup Final against the winner of the first game of the night, Michigan Bucks. The game will be played at after the third-place matchup between Christos FC and Chicago FC, with an estimated kickoff time of 7:30 pm.

Luke’s Logic: Ohio State Makes The College Football Playoffs.

My thoughts on Ohio State being selected for the College Football Playoff 

by: Luke Wickiser

COLUMBUS, OH (TM216) —  There was a lot of controversy surrounding the College Football Playoff Committee’s final decision today! Top-ranked Alabama (SEC Champion) was followed by Clemson (ACC Champion), Ohio State (At-Large) and Washington (Pac-12 Champion). Big Ten Champion Penn State finished the regular season ranked #5, with Michigan rounding things out at #6.

While I can only speak for myself, fans seem to be on one side of the controversy or the other surrounding the Buckeyes making it into the College Football Playoff. Most believe one of two things: You either believe that since Penn State won the Big Ten Championship and beat Ohio State head to head, they should be in. Or if you’re like me, you believe that the committee made the right decision by including Ohio State in the four-team field.

While strong Playoff arguments can each be made for Penn State, Michigan and Ohio State, since this is a Cleveland and Ohio sports site, I’ll highlight why Ohio State made it in over the Nittany Lions based on three things: quality wins, “good” losses and talent level. I’ll also add in other things that I believe could’ve been factors in Ohio State’s selection. Enjoy!

  1. Quality Wins: While Penn State did beat Ohio State head to head, the Nittany Lions only had a 2-1 record against teams ranked in the Top 10. (Wins: Ohio State, Wisconsin; Losses: Michigan). Ohio State, meanwhile had a 3-1 regular season record against teams ranked in the Top 10 with a blowout win at Oklahoma, and a pair of close wins over Wisconsin on the road and Michigan at home. Both were overtime thrillers! What many people arguing for Penn State don’t realize is this: No one other than Ohio State has three wins over the current Top 10. Not even mighty Alabama can claim this.
  2. Good Losses: While no team ever thinks of losing as a good thing, the Playoff committee does weigh how good or bad a loss looks on a playoff contender’s resume. They also take into consideration the number of losses a team has as well. This also seems to favor Ohio State, since the Buckeyes finished the season at 11-1 and Penn State ended their campaign at 11-2. When we look at the losses each team has, the obvious edge goes to Ohio State. The Buckeyes’ lone loss of the year came at Penn State on a blocked field goal that was ran back for a touchdown. Penn State’s two losses? A close, 42-39 loss at Pittsburgh (the Panthers ended up 8-4), and a blowout loss at #6 Michigan (49-10). The committee’s goal is to choose the four best teams to compete for the championship. “Best teams” either stay undefeated, or don’t have black eyes on their resume. The ugly showing at Michigan cost Penn State dearly here.
  3. Talent Level: I think the committee got it right here. Pairing Alabama with Washington and Ohio State with Clemson rather than putting Penn State up against Alabama or any of the other three creates the possibility for exciting and entertaining playoff games. I do not believe this would be the case had the Nittany Lions been included in the playoff as a four seed. If Penn State was blown out at home by a good Michigan team, imagine what Alabama would’ve done to them in the Playoff. I believe Ohio State has the talent to hang with Clemson, Alabama and Washington for all four quarters.
  4. Other Factors: While the committee should select the four best teams to play based on what they’ve done on the field, some off the field circumstances could have possibly influenced their choice to put Ohio State in the playoff. Two things come to my mind here: Money and Ratings. Anyone who follows college football knows Ohio State fans travel extremely well. That is, they pay a lot of money for tickets to big games, such as the upcoming Fiesta Bowl against Clemson. Buckeye fans have always made the NCAA a boatload of money. Ratings also could’ve influenced their final four decision. Simply put, there are many fans who want to see either a possible rematch of last year’s National Championship (Alabama vs. Clemson) or the 2015 Sugar Bowl (Alabama vs. Ohio State). The committee’s decision to put Ohio State in the four-team playoff allows for these two possibilities.

All in all, I believe the committee got things right!

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