After seeing his brother injured early in a Division I district semifinal match, St. John's Jesuit freshman Zach Buescher rescued his Titans from a serious upset bid from Findlay on Wednesday night at Southview.
Buescher scored two goals over the final seven minutes, 36 seconds as St. John's (12-2-2) survived the scare by rallying twice from one-goal deficits for a 4-3 win.
“We were all just pushing up trying to get a goal. I just tried to put it on net and if you do that, it can go in. We stayed calm and attacked,” Buescher said.
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In the first semifinal, Perrysburg hit the crossbar five times in a 2-0 shutout of St. Francis de Sales.
Perrysburg (10-6-3) advances to face St. John's in the district final on Saturday at 2:30.
The Titans lost their top player, senior Camden Buescher, to an injury early in the contest. Buescher, the district player of year, scored four goals in the Titans' 6-1 against the Trojans (11-5-2) earlier this season.
“I did some of it for him,” Zach Buescher said. “That felt great to help our team advance.”
St. John's trailed by a goal in the waning moments of regulation. But the Titans evened it at 3 when Buescher's shot hit the post and deflected in. Buescher scored the game winner with 2:39 remaining. His low, ground shot was partially stopped by Findlay goalie Clayton Hildebrand but it trickled in. St. John's coach Tom Shook called it a character win.
“You're always going to have a squeaker in the tournament and I hope this is our one,” Shook said. “They have a wonderful team and I knew they would come out loaded for bear. We had to dig down deep.”
Junior Levi VanDerMolen scored twice for Findlay.
St. John's junior John Cooper opened the scoring midway through the first half. VanDerMolen answered 14 seconds later.
Cooper chipped a shot over over the head of Hildebrand. VanDerMolen got around St. John's goalie Jarret Karalfa to tie it. VanDerMolen assisted on Justin Allsop's goal to give the Trojans a 2-1 lead with 12:29 left in the first half.
St. John's came out with good pressure to start the second half and cashed in with an own goal. Luis Gomez drove close to the net and his shot deflected off of a Trojan defender. Findlay regained a one-goal cushion when VanDerMolen scored with 29:35 left.
Titan goalie Stephen Wainz, who entered the game after the half for the injured Karalfa, made a critical save with 4:30 left. After Buescher's heroics, Findlay's Ryan Montgomery sent a shot just high with 10 seconds left.
“We got some big goals when we needed them,” Shook said. “[Zach Buescher] is a special one.”
In the first semifinal, Perrysburg inflicted heavy damage on the crossbar before breaking through with two goals in a match that the Yellow Jackets controlled.
Perrysburg applied significant pressure and hit the crossbar four times in the first half. Sophomore Andrew Bosworth broke the ice and senior Albert Damsi, who had hit the crossbar twice, added another goal in the second half.
“We were getting plenty of opportunities, we just didn't net them in the first half,” Perrysburg coach Mike Timbrook said. “It's part of the adrenaline game. You find yourself wide open for an opportunity and you have a bit of a miss-strike and you hit the pole. That's the goalie's best friend.”
Bosworth broke through for the Jackets when he got behind the Knights' defense 4:23 into the second half. Bosworth knocked down a great pass from his brother Michael inside the box.
“It was a big relief,” Bosworth said. “A bunch of hard work paid off in that goal. We just kept working at it and finally got that goal.”
Perrsyburg goalie Kyle Rowan made the save of the game with 28:42 left with a diving, one handed stop in midair. Damsi scored with nifty footwork with 15:57 left in the game.
“It was a huge relief to finally get one there because we had missed so many shots,” Damsi said. “We worked through the frustration.”
Yet the Yellow Jackets were also aided by the crossbar late.
St. Francis had a chance to score on a penalty shot but freshman Jadd Awad hit the frame.
The Yellow Jackets hit the crossbar three times in a span of three and a half minutes midway through the first half. Damsi missed on a wide open net while a few feet in front of the goal mouth.
St. Francis (9-4-2) had defeated Perrysburg 3-0 on Sept. 12.