by MICHAEL LEONARD | SPORTS EDITOR
Richfield -- Aurora boys soccer won a district title each of the last three seasons. It was getting past the regional semifinals that proved tricky the last two years.
On Halloween night at Revere's Infocision Field, however, those tricks turned into treats for Aurora.
Aurora roared out to a 3-0 halftime lead and then held on for a 5-2 win over Massillon Jackson in the Division I regional semifinal game.
Despite miserable rainy and windy conditions, the Greenmen played the type of game coach Chris Gentille hoped for.
"We knew coming in if we could play possession soccer, we'd be just fine," Gentille said. "We were able to get the ball out wide and work with it. It was a great job by our defense as well."
Aurora did a good job turning Jackson turnovers into goals, which was acknowledged by Polar Bear coach Michael Biros.
"They killed us for our mistakes," Biros said. "We gave the ball away too easy in our end."
Jackson's inability to clear the ball cost the Stark County squad in the fourth minute. Aurora defender Kevin Blackley collected a deflected ball in the box and smashed it through traffic and into the net.
Another turnover allowed Greenmen forward Nick Perez to make a long run to the end line in the 19th minute. Perez's cross was slightly deflected, but winger Trevor Wendel crashed the back post to tap it in.
AURORA'S third goal came just before halftime, as the Greenmen drew a free kick just outside the box.
Prayag Jina stepped up and sent a curling shot through the wall, which Jackson goaltender Michael Metzger could not handle.
Jina also had a big defensive play late in the first half, as he headed a ball off of Aurora's line to preserve the shutout in the first half.
The Greenmen's commanding 3-0 halftime lead forced Biros to tell his team to "just go for broke" in the second half.
The Polars Bears pushed forward and, during a scramble in the box in the 55th minute, Jackson defender Nick Wright headed home the ball to make it 3-1.
"When we got it to 3-1, we seemed to relax again," Biros said. "They put us on the back foot."
After several close chances, Aurora got the fourth goal in the 62nd minute. Forward Dalton Browsky stopped a clearing ball with his head, controlled it and smashed it into the net.
"The fourth goal was huge," Gentille said. "They got one back, but when you're up two goals with 10 minutes left, you feel pretty good."
Jackson got a second goal off a free kick in the 64th minute, when Jackson Crawford somehow put a ball through traffic into the net.
However, Browsky erased all doubt in the 76th minute when he ran onto a through ball from Perez, beat Metzger in a one-on-one situation and put the ball away.
Aurora finished with a 14-6 edge in shots on goal. Metzger finished with nine saves, while Aurora keeper Justin Pavlick had three stops.
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