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Crunch Lose to Swerve in Cincy, 9-8, in First MLIS Match

The Cleveland Crunch opened their inaugural MLIS season yesterday against the Cincinnati Swerve in the Cincinnati suburb of Fairfield.


The Crunch roster has many of the same faces you have grown to cheer for these past two years. Guys like Admir Suljevic, Boban Cancar, Ben Hryszko, Mikey Derezic, Kevin Blackwood, Miski Petkovic and Vinnie Bell. New coach, Benny Dargle, will be on the bench this season coaching for the Crunch as they embark on their 2022-23 MLIS season, the first for this new professional indoor league.


Cincinnati came into the game losers against Grand Rapids last weekend. But with a game under their belts, they might be more prepared than the Crunch.


In the Training Center down in Fairfield, Ohio, the Swerve notched their first victory of the year over their rivals up north, defeating the Crunch, 9-8.


Cleveland outshot Cincinnati, 42-18, while suffering their first loss of the young season. Cincinnati is now 1-1 on the year.


First quarter


If the first quarter is an indication of what the MLIS league has to offer, then be ready for high scoring games! By the end, Cincy had a 4-3 lead, on only five shots! Cleveland took nine shots in the frame. Both teams scored four goals in under five minutes!


The Crunch got the scoring underway with their first goal at the 9:44 mark. Tom Beck found the net off an assist from Ryan Minick. Then right after a player substitution, goal #2 dropped in for David Jordan. Good way for the Crunch to start, up 2-0 with 8 minutes left in the first.


Then quickly Cincinnati dropped two goals in under 40 seconds. The first was after a steal and quick 3 v 1 advantage saw Kalu Abass score on the assist from Fin Sallows.  Then, the tying goal happened on a shot initially saved by Crunch keeper, Connor Robinson, but the ball bounced away and was slotted in by Joe Grimes.


By the end of quarter one, Cincinnati tallied two more and the Crunch another for the 4-3 Cincinnati lead. 


Quarter 2


Kevin Blackwood, not the wrestler  but the powerful midfielder for Cleveland, who played collegiately at Cleveland State and Ohio State, evened the scoring early in the 2nd. Ryan Minick said, “I’ll get us the lead” and he did! Two quick goals and the Crunch went up 5-4.


Cincy’s defender, Riley McKenzie, scored to even it back up at 5. 

Beck Hat Trick!

Gabriel Pewu, a Crunch forward, jumped on a defensive miscue and scored #6 for Cleveland. The seventh goal came on the third assist in the game for Ryan Minick, the Cleveland forward from North Royalton and Hiram College soccer, as he found Beck for his third goal and Cleveland took a 7-5 lead into the locker room.


First half stats

Cleveland outshot the Swerve 20 to 9 and were penalized twice against Cincinnati’s zero. Coach Benny Dargle’s men had to be thinking we can continue to score against these guys, right? The Crunch beat them by huge scores last year!


Um, not really!


Third Quarter

Cleveland started strong and grabbed an 8th goal 23 seconds into the 2nd half. Beck quickly swerved through the Swerve defense and scored on a great individual effort for his fourth goal on the night. Up 8-5, things were looking positive. And then in a snap, Cincinnati’s defense shut down the vaunted Cleveland offense for the final 29:37 seconds of the entire second half.


The Swerve basically held Cleveland to no goals on 22 shots. Yes, 22 shots! The Swerve scored two third quarter goals, one by player/head coach Manny Adjei, to bring the score to 8-7 as the third quarter came to a close.


Fourth Quarter

The Swerve dominated the last stanza as they grabbed two goals, one on a penalty kick, and finally defeated their northern counterparts.


The second half saw Cleveland miss open looks and many of their shots found the feet of Swerve defenders as they blocked and bodied the men from The Land. There were a few outstanding saves by Corey Whisenhunt, the Ohio native, for Cincinnati as they cruised to a big rivalry win.


Next Game


Cleveland will travel to Grand Rapids for a game with Rapid City FC. Saturday, December 17th at 6:30 pm at the MSA Sports Spot in Grand Rapids, Michigan.


Join the team for the first home game in January on the 28th at the I-X Center at 7 PM! Get your tickets soon! You need the TicketSwift app. 

Watch the entire game here!

Here is the YouTube link for rewatching the entire game.

Goal Scorers: Player(#scored if more than 1)

Tom Beck (4)

David Jordan (2)

Gabriel Pewu (1)

Ryan Minick 1 goal/3 assists

Ma’Cain Spragling 1 assists



I am a math teacher in SW Ohio. Born and raised in NE Ohio, I am married with four sons who keep the flame burning for all things Cleveland. I cover soccer, betting, football and anything that focuses on the human side of sports.



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