CORTLAND - Lakeview coach Nate Mailach called it one of the best shots that he has witnessed.
With the match tied at 1-1 in the 72nd minute, the ball squirted out to Lakeview's Matt Pasternak from a Canfield clearance, and the sophomore midfielder sent a laser past Andrik Massaro from 25 yards away.
Pasternak's teammates went wild after the line-drive shot.
"It feels amazing - just knowing it goes into the back of the net and the crowd goes crazy," he said. "It's the best feeling in the whole world."
The goal was even sweeter for Pasternak and the Bulldogs, as it ended up as the game-winning goal in Lakeview's 3-1 win in a Division II district semifinal match against Canfield Wednesday night.
It capped off an excellent performance for the sophomore midfielder, who played like a midfield maestro for the Bulldogs (17-1). He set up forward Colton Ainsley with multiple attempts alone on net, especially in the second half.
"The major difference tonight is that we have Matt Pasternak, and Canfield doesn't," Mailach said. "He's a special player, and he was all over the place tonight. He's a big game player."
Along with Pasternak's play, the defense also stepped up its play in the second half.
The Lakeview defense struggled against the Cardinals (10-7-1), culminating in Mike Piersante's goal in the 28th minute. Because of this, Mailach said that he challenged his center backs at halftime.
The center backs responded, snuffing out most offensive opportunities during the final 40 minutes. Having trouble attacking the Bulldog defense, Canfield switched to a more counterattacking style instead of holding possession and trying to break down the defense, which suited Lakeview.
Mailach also gave credit to senior midfielder A.J. Miller for playing a role in stopping Canfield's main offensive threat, Dylan Seybert.
"Another key tonight was that A.J. Miller really shut down their all-state (player), Dylan Seybert," Mailach said. "I can't say enough about his effort tonight. He took himself out of the offense to concentrate on defense, and he got the job done."
The defense didn't completely rid itself of shaky moments, however.
Despite going down a man in the 76th minute when Frank Phillips recorded his second yellow card, the Cardinals pushed for an equalizer, and they came close in the 78th minute.
Junior Ronnie Mangie tried to chip a shot from the edge of the 18-yard box, and as the ball danced in the air, it was up to Lakeview goalkeeper Clay Becker to make the save. The senior drifted into his net but somehow caught and kept the ball from crossing the line.
"I saw the kid come up and hit it, and he hit a pretty good shot," Becker said. "I thought it was going to go over me. I didn't know if I was going to make it or not, but I did.
"If I wouldn't have made that save, I don't think we would have come back (to win)."
With the win, the Bulldogs advanced to the district final host Cardinal Mooney Saturday at 7 p.m. Becker said the home field advantage will be important. It is a rematch of last year's district final where Lakeview beat Mooney.
"That crowd just wills you on to do those final plays - make that last goal or make that last save," he said. "It really helps out having the fans here."