The Rough Riders ended their season with a

By Eric Clutter Record-Courier staff writer Published:

The Rough Riders ended their season with a 19-3 mark, the 19 wins tying a school record.

"Right now our kids feel pretty bad," said Kent Roosevelt coach Chris Vanderneut. "And that's because we are competitive.

"A week from now they will look back at it and realize we had a good season and think about all the good stuff rather than the bad. And they should."

Like it did against Cleveland St. Ignatius in its regional semifinal win, the Rough Riders surrendered a goal in the opening 10 minutes when Mark Trapp finished off a 35-yard throw-in by Jeff Jacko, booting the ball past Kent Roosevelt goalkeeper Pete Vaccaro.

North Olmsted coach Christian Marsh wasn't surprised by his team's quick goal.

"You could tell in the locker room. I've never seen them like that _ We're here to play," he said of his team which made its seventh state appearance Tuesday.

That was all the Eagles (16-2-4) and senior goalkeeper Justin Christafaris needed to advance to Friday night's state title game in Columbus against Westerville North. A North Olmsted win at Columbus Crew Stadium would bring the school its fourth state championship trophy.

Christafaris, a lanky 6-foot-2 and one of only two seniors on the Eagles, came up with the big saves when he had to, as the North Olmsted defense limited the potent Kent Roosevelt attack to only eight shots in the game and only three during the final 40 minutes.

"I don't think we played to our full potential," said Kent Roosevelt's leading scorer Will Kletzien, one of 10 seniors who played their final game. "But they are a good team and I give them all the credit.

"We had a great year, a great season. All the guys did well."

Vanderneut thought the key to the game was the size of the Eagles.

"I think we had a real tough time handling their physical strength. We had chances and we couldn't convert. It became an uphill battle the rest of the way. The difference really was physical _ 11-on-11 we couldn't keep up with them."

Trailing 1-0 starting the second half, Kletzien dribbled toward the net on the left side and fed a pass to David Flaningan who blistered an attempt that Christafaris thwarted.

Four minutes later at the 32:38 mark, Jacko set up Mike Mackulin who managed to get the ball past Vaccaro who had lost his footing coming out to challenge the shot.

"When they scored that second one," said Vanderneut, "they packed it in and we didn't get much after that."

Kent Roosevelt had a couple of chances inside the last 10 minutes, including a corner kick that Christafaris made a nice stop on.

"I'm happy for our guys," said Vanderneut. "Nineteen in a row, it doesn't get much better than that. I think our coaches (Chidi Ekechi, K.R. Fozouni, John Congrove) did a fantastic job this year."

_____

CLEVELAND STATE DIV. I STATE SEMIFINAL

North Olmsted 2, Kent Roosevelt 0

(At Cleveland State)

NORTH OLMSTED 1 1 _ 2

KENT ROOSEVELT 0 0 _ 0

First half _ 1. (N.O.) Mark Trapp (Jeff Jacko), 33:10.

Second half _ 2. (N.O.) Mike Mackulin (Jacko), 32:38.

Shots on goal _ North Olmsted, 15-8.

Corner kicks _ Kent Roosevelt, 5-2.

Goalkeepers/Saves _ (N.O.) Justin Christafaris/8; (KR) Pete

Vaccaro/13.

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