ECOL champions: Marietta boys top rival Warren to clinch league title
VINCENT — The Marietta Tigers are East Central Ohio League champs for the third consecutive year.
It took a David Sarver penalty kick in the 55th minute to break a 1-1 tie after a Brody McGregor goal first gave them the lead in the 7th minute, but he found the back of the net. That lifted the Tigers to a 2-1 win over the homestanding Warren Warriors on Thursday night.
The weather got colder as the night progressed, but the action kept heating up, as timely fouls for both sides gave them a chance to score. Following a Tiger score in the 17th minute, both goalkeepers (Warren’s Jackson Petty and Marietta’s Caden Gebcyzk) saw good defense from their defenders throughout the remainder of the half.
At the break, WHS head coach Ekram Eksi told his team to be more aggressive going into the final 40 minutes, and that’s what they did. Ben Goodman drew a foul while charging toward the MHS goal, and a whistle blew.
That set him up for an equalizing penalty kick in the 43rd minute, as it was up to the Tigers to respond. Physicality ruled the rest of the way, as Sarver scored just 12 minutes later to seel the deal. The triumph for the Tigers (7-3-3) sets them up for a date at Tri-Valley on Saturday, while Warren drops to 5-7-2. Head coach Todd Morris talked about what it took for his squad to get back to that point through the adversity of this match.
“It was a good, hard-fought match. I think the confidence we got from, in the first half, playing on their side of the field helped,” he said.
“It’s just a matter of us converting on their side of the field, but we did enough to win. It’s tough to win out here. This clinches our third-straight conference championship, and they knew that was there, too. We’ve been battling since June. Are we going to have a season, are we not going to have a season? We graduated 12 guys from the squad last year, and we came into the preseason trying to figure it all out. It’s a cliche, but we’re just trying to get better, day by day. We’re battling injuries, but this is four wins in a row, and we clinched our conference.”
Marietta is heating up at the right time, and another part of that success is Gebczyk. While he wasn’t as busy as Petty, he directed traffic on his side, and was a key to the team’s success and three-peat. Coach Morris spoke of his defense’s effort.
“They’ve been a work in progress,” he admitted. “But they showed up tonight, led by our senior captain Adam Coil back there. He’s been a four-year starter for us.”
Gebcyzk himself was happy with his performance and is ready to help the team advance.
“I think our defense was really good, and we held strong there (in the second half),” he said. “I think we can go pretty far. I do think Warren was a good challenge for us.”
Speaking of the Warriors, coach Eksi though his team fought hard through everything Marietta threw at them.
“In the first half when we got started, until they made that goal, we were doing well,” he said. “We had a defensive mistake, and after that, they dominated the game until halftime. After that, we found some opportunities and scored a goal. We were still finding opportunities until they got the penalty kick. Then we were attacking, but it was a weak attack, and we couldn’t create many other opportunities.”
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