by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
Aurora -- Prior to conference play, the Tallmadge boys soccer team mowed opponents down with relative ease.
Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, it hasn't been nearly as easy in the talented Suburban League American Conference.
The Tallmadge boys soccer team fell to 7-6-2 overall and 1-4-1 in the Suburban League American Conference after losing to Aurora 2-0 Oct. 11 at Aurora High School's Veterans Stadium.
The Greenmen (11-3-1, 4-1-1), a perennial Division I powerhouse, simply had too much skill and too much speed for the Blue Devils, who spent much more time defending than attacking.
The statistics certainly told the story.
Aurora outshot Tallmadge 20-1 and had a 9-0 edge in corner kicks.
Such numbers made Blue Devils' senior goalkeeper Tommy Kilway a busy man.
Facing a barrage of point-blank shots inside his own penalty box, Kilway made 18 saves.
"They pass the ball well and they're very fast," said Tallmadge sophomore midfielder Justin Betts, who, along with senior midfielder Jadon Wolf and junior defender Jerry Walsh, are team captains. "I thought we passed the ball well."
At times, the Blue Devils were able to string a few passes together.
But Aurora, thanks to its speed, had a knack for getting back in position to force turnovers and prevent Tallmadge from getting shots off.
Nonetheless, the Blue Devils made their presence known defensively and avoided letting things get out of hand.
It looked like it was going to get out of hand early.
That's because the Greenmen needed a little more than two minutes to get on the board.
Sophomore Dan French received a pass from his twin brother Mike French and finished to make it 1-0 in favor of Aurora.
French got the ball in Tallmadge's penalty box off a long throw-in.
The Greenmen got their other goal with 2:24 remaining in the first half.
This time, sophomore Josh Famageltto took a shot not far outside of Tallmadge's penalty box on the left side.
The ball landed in the right side of the net.
Aurora kept attacking for most of the evening and had a couple of shots hit the crossbar.
"Our shooting wasn't very good," Greenmen head coach Jason Bibza said.
"We had a lot of shots that were deflected. We wanted to put the ball on the ground and make short, quick passes."
Although the Blue Devils had lost five of their last six games as of press time, Betts believes his team has made significant strides.
Some of those strides have nothing to do with their play on the field.
"We've come together and we have really bonded," Justin Betts said. "I think our chemistry as a team has improved. It's a lot better than it was earlier in the season.
"At the beginning of the season, we had some freshmen come up to the varsity. We've welcomed them to the team."
Aurora senior goalie Joey Brockway needed to make just one save.
Tallmadge ended its four-game losing streak with a 4-0 victory over Cardinal Oct. 8 in Middlefield.
Justin Betts had a goal and an assist and senior midfielder Mitch Makuch, sophomore attacker Nick Hussing and Walsh also scored.
Sophomore midfielder Jason Betts added an assist for the Blue Devils, who had a 10-4 advantage in shots on goal and a 5-2 edge in corner kicks. Kilway made four saves in the nets.
Tallmadge was scheduled to conclude its season with a home date against Akron North Oct. 15 at Thomas Rossiaky Stadium. Results were not available at press time.
The Blue Devils received the fourth seed at the Division II Medina sectional-district tournament.
Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary got the top seed and Alliance Marlington and Akron Coventry earned the second and third seeds, respectively.
Tallmadge is scheduled to host Canal Fulton Northwest in a sectional semifinal contest Oct. 18 at 7 p.m.
"I think we're ready," Justin Betts said. "We have some things to work on. We can still work on our passing."