What a Season!
The Ohio Vortex of the Professional Arena Soccer League (PASL-Pro) had quite a first season on and off the field. The Vortex struggled early in the season, but turned things around to earn a respectable 8-8 record and a third place finish in the Eastern Division.
The offense was led by forward Allen Eller, an All-League First Team selection, who paced the expansion squad with 34 goals and 19 assists. Keeper Nate Rausch led the defense with 145 saves, while defender Jared Dombrowski finished with 12 blocks.
The Vortex finished fifth in the league in attendance. Their home facility, the Canton Memorial Civic Center, was widely regarded as the premier facility in the PASL-Pro and was recently under consideration for hosting the North American Championships. This prestigious event gathers professional soccer clubs from the United States, Canada, and Mexico and attracts thousands of fans.
The most important work for the Canton franchise took place off the field. The Vortex, under a unique business model, provided thousands of dollars to local charities. Actually 85% of gate receipts and 10% of concession sales went directly to charitable organizations in Northeastern Ohio. Numerous public appearances were conducted throughout the region; the club’s charitable mission was always first on display.
Strong corporate sponsors from all across North America allowed the Vortex to act as a non-profit organization that was deeply committed to the community. Michele Spangler, Director of Sales for the Hampton Inn and Suites (Canton), said their support of the team started because of the team’s charitable mission and the growing popularity of soccer. “I think the Ohio Vortex will be a great asset to Canton,” Spangler commented. “Especially because soccer is growing more and more in this area.”
Marco Rizi, General Sales Manager for Fana Sports, got involved with the club for several reasons. As a former professional soccer player, Rizi is always looking to promote the game in Northeastern Ohio. He also admitted that the business model was attractive and very innovative. Rizi saw the benefit it could have in the community, saying that the city of Canton needed something. “It is great to see the Vortex support charities. We at Fana Sports wanted to partner up in that.”
John Cardi, VP of National Sales for Safelite Auto Glass, saw an opportunity when they signed up as a corporate sponsor for the Ohio Vortex. The franchise’s charitable purpose fit closely with Safelite’s mission. “We support organizations that promote the health and well-being of families,” Cardi stated. This is surely not the first time Safelite has supported community organizations. Their employees have donated funds and volunteer hours to agencies like the Boys and Girls Club, the United Way, and Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Exciting news came early in the offseason as promising young defender Michael Pertz signed a contract with Real Maryland FC of the United Soccer League’s Second Division (USL-2). A second player, Louis Rolko agreed to terms with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds of USL-2 after spending time with the Vortex Premier and Professional squads.
Vortex Finish Strong
WINNIPEG, MB - February 27, 2010 - The Ohio Vortex finished the season with two wins over the Winnipeg Alliance during a Saturday doubleheader. The Vortex made the long journey to play at Winnipeg's MTS Centre in front of 3,000 vibrant fans.
The first match ended with a 5-4 win for the Vortex. Five different players, including Medina's own Michael Pertz, contributed a goal.
The second matchup would feature an Allen Eller hat trick in a 7-5 win for Ohio. Adam Campellone would pace the Vortex with three assists. The Canton-based franchise struggled early in the season, but ended with a respectable 8-8 record.
Massive Improvement by the Vortex
The Ohio Vortex were able to pull out an important road win over the Detroit Waza by a 14-12 margin. Allen Eller had 6 goals and an assist to lead the Vortex.
The Vortex will travel to Canada next weekend to face the Winnipeg Alliance in a doubleheader at the MTS Centre. The Alliance are expecting a crowd of over 7,000 fans at each match. Ohio then will close out the season with a match against the St. Louis Illusion on March 7.
The Vortex also announced that defender Michael Pertz will participate in a tryout this weekend with the Richmond Kickers of the United Soccer League's Second Division. Pertz will be among 100 players from 18 different countries that will be attending this pro tryout at the Kickers training facility, Ukrop Park. This same facility is among those being considered as a team base camp in the USA bid for the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup.
The Medina, OH resident began his collegiate career at the University of Akron (OH) before stints at Mount Vernon Nazarene University (OH) and Azusa Pacific University (CA). Pertz has become a stalwart for the Vortex backline, where his size and deceptive speed are an asset. Scouting reports suggest that he could develop into a "Chad Marshall style" defender with the ability to defend and score in the box.
Rough Weekend for the Vortex
The Ohio Vortex drop a pair of matches losing 14-8 to the Louisville Lightning and 10-4 to the 1790 Cincinnati Express.
The Vortex would travel to Louisville, Kentucky on Saturday to face the surging Lightning. Ohio would take the lead early with three goals from Matt Tutich. Louisville would take control just before halftime and wouldn't look back. Glenn Volk, fresh off a tryout with AC St. Louis, and Ryan McDonald would each finish with a hat-trick for the Lightning. Unfortunately for the Vortex, newcomer John Ball would be ejected from the match in the fourth quarter because of a rough challenge against Louisville's Lee Weyland.
Sunday would not be any better for the Vortex as they faced the Eastern Division leading 1790 Cincinnati Express. Ohio would struggle early on their way to a 10-4 defeat at the hands of Cincinnati. Allen Eller would lead the Vortex with two goals, while Milko Cecez and Israel Jones added singles of their own.
Pertz Invited to Tryout with the Timbers
CANTON, OH - January 27, 2010 - Ohio Vortex defender Michael Pertz will participate in an invite-only combine for the Portland Timbers this weekend. The Timbers will be moving to Major League Soccer in 2011.
Pertz began his collegiate career at the University of Akron (OH) before stints at Mount Vernon Nazarene University (OH) and Azusa Pacific University (CA). Pertz has become a stalwart for the Vortex backline, where his size and deceptive speed are an asset. Scouting reports suggest that Pertz could develop into a “Chad Marshall style” defender with the ability to defend and score in the box.
“It is my hope that Mike has a great tryout and realizes his dream to play professional outdoor soccer,” Vortex founder Nick Bogdan commented. “In the meantime, he has a home with the Ohio Vortex and we are lucky to have him on the team.”
Ball Signs with the Vortex
CANTON, OH - January 26, 2010 – Veteran John Ball has signed with the Ohio Vortex of the Professional ArenaSoccer League (PASL-Pro).
Ball, one of the elite players in the indoor game, has over 13 years of professional experience. His career began in 1995 with the Cleveland Crunch of the National Professional Soccer League (NPSL). He would also see action indoors with the Cleveland Force, Chicago Storm, and the California Cougars. Ball would score an unbelievable 36 goals during his 2001-2002 season with the Crunch. He would see career bests for assists (31) in 2004-2005 and blocks (63) in 2000-2001.
The native of Newtown, Conn., Ball would have an illustrious career outdoors as well. He would begin playing with the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer (MLS) in 1999. He would have great success in six seasons with the Rochester Rhinos of the United Soccer League’s First Division (USL-1). In 2009 Ball would find himself tied for fourth in USL-1 with 6 assists. He currently ranks 10th in regular season points, 9th in regular season goals, and 9th in games played for the Rhinos all-time leaders.
A proven winner, Ball has claimed five championships during his soccer career, including two NCAA Division II Championships with Southern Connecticut State. He was also a member of the U.S. National Futsal Team in 2004 and 2007.
“John is a technically and tactically superior player that can play two or three different positions and play them very well,” Head Coach Denzil Antonio commented. “I will be expecting John to bring these assets along with his vast experience to help the Vortex team in our playoff run."
Strong Finish at Home for Vortex
CANTON, OH - Janauary 16, 2010 - Allen Eller's massive performance helped propel the Ohio Vortex to a 12-9 victory over the Louisville Lightning.
Eller's six goals led the Vortex attack, while fellow midfielder Steve Gillespie added three assists. The Canton-based club improved to 4-5 overall, but faces a stiff challenge with seven road games to finish the season.
Gillespie Comes Up Big
CANTON, OH - January 15, 2010 - Steve Gillespie scored a goal with two minutes remaining as the Ohio Vortex defeated the Detroit Waza 8-7.
Gillespie would add another two assists and Allen Eller would score a total of four goals on the way to an Ohio victory. The Vortex (3-5) face John Michael Hayden and the Lousville Lightning on Saturday evening.
Vortex Fall to Lightning at Mockingbird
LOUISVILLE, KY – January 8, 2010 – Local product Michael Furlong and a young Ohio Vortex squad fell to the Louisville Lightning by an 18-4 margin.
The Vortex sent mostly developmental players on this road trip as it was only an exhibition match for Ohio. It would count for Louisville, who improved to 5-2 on the year.
Richard Ott, Stefan Ostegren, Rob Young, and Georgi Petrov all scored goals for the Vortex, while keeper John Brubach was bombarded with 44 shots from the Louisville attack. Louisville’s Safet Kovacevic proved to be too much for the Vortex defense as he tallied 5 goals and 2 assists.
A full-strength Vortex squad will face the St. Louis Illusion, owned by former Canton Invader Jamie Swanner, on Saturday night at 7 pm. The match will be the first of three final home games at the Canton Civic Center.
Vortex Get First Win in Canton
CANTON, OH - January 3, 2010 - The Ohio Vortex were able to rebound from Saturday’s loss to defeat the Winnipeg Alliance 13-8.
Three goals from both Dado Grozdanic and Adis Kuduzovic helped pace the Vortex attack, while Nate Rausch’s 21 saves led the Ohio defense. The first half was quite competitive, but the home team was able to pull away from Winnipeg (0-2) in the third quarter.
The Vortex (2-4) hope to continue their push up the table when they travel to Louisville, Kentucky on Friday, January 8th. They will return to the Civic Center the following day to face the St. Louis Illusion, owned by former Canton Invader Jamie Swanner.
Vortex Fall to Louisville in Canton Opener
CANTON, OH - January 2, 2010 - There's just something about going to a soccer game at the Civic Center. There was a real sense of nostalgia among the crowd and the players Saturday, but this didn't translate into a victory as the Ohio Vortex fell to the Louisville Lightning 11-9.
It was an entertaining match with many highs and lows and dozens of close calls from both squads. It all started with a rush of offense from the Ohio Vortex (1-4). Three Ohio goals came within the first twelve minutes before Safet Kovacevic put the Lightning (3-2) on the board before the end of the first quarter.
The 3-1 lead for the Vortex would quickly melt away in the second quarter. Louisville was able to produce four goals against just one from Ohio. This lone Vortex goal would come from midfielder Steve Gillespie, who finished the match with a team-leading two assists.
Unfortunately for the home team, momentum continued to fall in the Lightning's favor. Four more goals from Louisville made things difficult for the Vortex. A single goal from Ohio's Adam Campellone, his second of the night, was the only offense they could muster in the third quarter. The 9-5 lead for the Lightning proved to be quite the roadblock for the Vortex heading into the fourth quarter.
The fourth was like a roller coaster with the Lightning adding another quick goal early in the quarter. Midfielder Allen Eller put the Vortex back in it at 10-6. David Horne, the Lightning's "Renaissance Man" would respond with a goal of his own moments later. Horne is not only a solid player, but also the club's general manager and an assistant coach. Consecutive goals from Ohio's formidable striker Dado Grozdanic cut into the Louisville lead. Fellow forward Adis Kuduzovic would score the final goal of the match to bring the Vortex just short of victory. Ohio's 11-9 defeat at the hands of Louisville was not what fans had hoped for, but the product on and off the field was impressive nonetheless.
Both clubs could find the positives on this occasion. Campellone, Eller, and Grozdanic each contributed two goals to the Vortex attack. Gillespie, who recently recovered from a case of turf toe, continued to impress and is developing into one of the league's young stars.
New signing John Michael Hayden, formerly of the MLS Houston Dynamo and USL Cleveland City Stars, would join three other Lightning players in scoring two goals. This was Hayden's first game in a Lightning uniform; he officially joined the club on New Year's Day. His signing represents the biggest event in the team's young history.
The small but vibrant crowd of 600 fans clearly enjoyed the game and will be looking for more as the Vortex play the Winnipeg Alliance in less than 24 hours. According to veteran defender Wes Sechrist, motivation won't be a factor against the visiting Canadian squad. "Losing is going to be the best motivation. That taste in your mouth is not good and I think everyone is going to come out with a little bit of extra effort."
Local product Michael Furlong agreed, "I wouldn't want to be Winnipeg coming in. I think our people will be hungry tomorrow."
Winnipeg will be the next opponent for the Vortex before they head to Louisville for a rematch against the Lightning on January 8th.
Vortex Add Sechrist to Squad
CANTON, OH - December 23, 2009 – The Ohio Vortex (Professional Arena Soccer League) formally announce the signing of veteran defender Wes Sechrist. The 36-year-old Sechrist brings over a decade of experience to the expansion Vortex squad.
A Lakewood High School (OH) graduate, Sechrist began his professional soccer career with the Cleveland Crunch (National Professional Soccer League). He would go on to play for numerous clubs, including the Utah Freezz (World Indoor Soccer League).
Sechrist spent the 2008-2009 season with the Detroit Ignition of the Xtreme Soccer League. For Detroit he appeared in 19 games, contributing 1 goal and 2 assists to go along with 28 blocks.
“I am glad to have Wes on board with us as his knowledge of the game and his composure under pressure gives us another dimension that can be used that was absent in previous games,” head coach Denzil Antonio commented. “As the team continues to gel I fully expect to see more preferable results and hopefully see the team contend for a division crown.”
Vortex Gets First Win of Season
CLEVELAND, OH - December 19, 2009 – Allen Eller’s hat trick led the Ohio Vortex to a 9-6 defeat of the 1790 Cincinnati Express at the Cleveland Multiplex.
Midfielder Milko Cecez and forward Adis Kuduzovic each contributed two goals for the Vortex. Kuduzovic led the squad with two assists, while newcomer Wes Sechrist and keeper Nate Rausch kept the Cincinnati offense at bay. Sechrist’s leadership and experience proved to be quite a boost for the young Vortex squad, while Rausch was simply phenomenal in goal with 23 saves.
The Vortex started with a flourish and finished the first quarter with a 3-1 lead. The strong play from the Vortex early helped set the tone for the match.
Malone University alum Lucas Martorana scored the first goal of the second quarter as the Vortex maintained their fast and physical play. Jack Cummings’ goal in the ninth minute was answered by Ohio’s Kuduzovic just four minutes later. The Express cut the Vortex lead to 5-3 with a Shawn Rockey power play goal two minutes before halftime.
The third quarter was pure domination by the Vortex as they added four more goals. Ohio’s defense shut out the Express, which is almost unheard of in the indoor game. The 9-3 lead at the end of the third proved to be insurmountable for Cincinnati.
Young midfielder John Mellencamp (one goal) and veteran striker Matt Breines (two goals) led a relentless attack from the Express in the fourth, but were unable to get closer than the 9-6 final.
The Vortex (1-3) play their next match against the Louisville Lightning at the Canton Civic Center on January 2. Cincinnati (4-2) has little time to rest as they face the Detroit Waza on Sunday, December 20.
Updated Roster Photos
Ohio Vortex Announces Local Recipients
CANTON, OH - December 12, 2009 - The Ohio Vortex announces today the recipients of ticket sale proceeds for the upcoming Canton, Ohio schedule.
The non-profits receiving funds, and the game date for each include:
January 2 Habitat for Humanity of Greater Stark & Carroll Counties, Stark Social Workers Network
January 3 Stark County Hunger Task Force, SPARK Ohio
January 9 HandsOnSports Foundation
January 15 Hammer & Nails, Inc.
January 16 Autism Society, The Greater Akron chapter
Due to the team’s unique business model, 85% of gate revenue from each game will go to the Non-Profits coinciding with that games date.
The Ohio Vortex, Canton’s Professional Arena Soccer team, will finally takes it rightful place in its home stadium, The Canton Civic Center, for their remaining games. With the first game January 2, 2010, the team comes home for a five game home stand. “It’s nice to finally come home. I know this is what Canton has been waiting for,” says Vortex CEO, Nick Bogdan, himself a former Canton professional soccer player.
Tickets are $11 and $13.
Waza Victorious on the Road
CLEVELAND, OH – December 12, 2009 - Twenty-five saves from keeper Kris Lyons helped lead the Detroit Waza to a 10-5 victory over the Ohio Vortex at the Cleveland Multiplex.
It was another high-scoring affair with 15 goals in 60 minutes. Tommy Eller led Detroit with two goals, while Steve Gillespie was among five Vortex players with a goal. Forward Dado Girozdanic contributed an assist for Ohio, while Darrel Quinn added two for the Waza.
The clubs found themselves tied 2-2 at the end of the first quarter. Detroit was able to take a 4-3 lead at the half.
The Waza were able to add three more goals before forward Adis Kuduzovic was able to sneak one past the Detroit keeper. This brought the score to 7-4 at the end of the third quarter. Dominic Scicluna would go on to score one of three Detroit goals in the fourth quarter. Ohio’s Israel Jones converted a power play goal in the final minute of the match to settle the score at 10-5.
The Detroit Waza (3-2) will return home to face a U.S. Open opponent on Sunday, December 13. Meanwhile Ohio Vortex (0-3) will have time to regroup before facing the 1790 Cincinnati Express on December 19 in their final appearance at the Multiplex.
Vortex Fall at Home to Express
CLEVELAND, OH – December 5, 2009 - Twenty-four saves from keeper Craig Salvati help lead the 1790 Cincinnati Express to an 8-6 victory at the Multiplex.
It was a high-scoring affair as expected with 14 goals in 60 minutes. Defender Jeff Hughes led Cincinnati with three goals, while Adam Campellone paced the Vortex with two of his own. Midfielder Allen Eller contributed two assists for Ohio along with a single goal. Three Cincinnati players (Kurt Fischer, Tim Brown, and Sam Fiore) each added an assist.
The Express found themselves with a 3-0 lead in the first quarter; it appeared that their experience in the indoor game was quite an advantage. Cincinnati was able to add two more before the Vortex scored their first of the night. Halftime found the home squad down 5-1.
The Vortex were able to make a run in the third quarter, adding two goals to bring the score to 5-3. Hughes scored the next three goals to allow the Express to take a commanding 8-3 lead. Matt Tutich and Adam Campellone added goals for Ohio in the 4th quarter before their coach pulled the keeper. The tactical move added a goal from Pete Angelokostopoulos in the final minutes, but just not enough to defeat Cincinnati.
The Ohio Vortex will face the Detroit Waza in Cleveland on December 12, the same squad Cincinnati faces on December 6.
Waza Beat Vortex in Season Opener
ROYAL OAK, MI - November 21, 2009 - Despite holding the lead at halftime, the Ohio Vortex (0-1) lost their first ever match 6-4 Saturday night against the Detorit Waza (1-0). The Vortex came into the second half leading 3-2, but the Waza were able to put away three consecutive goals, two of which coming from Drew Ducker in under five minutes of each other.
Ducker, who scored three goals in total, helped the Waza win their first match of the year in their first try, as last year it took them to game seven to break into the win column.
“We just had a bad third period,” said the Vortex’s Steve Gillespie. “We just need some more time together and this break will really help us out.”
The Waza took advantage of the fast paced game and may have caught the new team off guard with the style of play that PASL–Pro includes. One thing was for sure, despite being tired, the Vortex played as hard as they could until the final buzzer.
Detroit will now start a back-to-back road trip with a match Friday night in Kentucky to play the Louisville Lightning, as the Vortex have a two week layoff and face 1790 Cincinnati Express at the Cleveland Metroplex on December 5th.
Arena Soccer Returns to Canton, Ohio
CANTON, OH - September 10, 2009 - The Professional Arena Soccer League (PASL-Pro) today announced it has granted an expansion membership to the Ohio Vortex. The team will begin play in November and its home venue will be the Canton Civic Center.
"This is a great addition for the PASL-Pro," said commissioner Kevin Milliken. "It really is a great combination of venue, geography, strong ownership, corporate support, and history.
The Canton Invaders called the Civic Center home from 1984 to 1995. Led by such indoor greats as Jamie Swanner, Rudy Pikuzinski, and Kia Zolgharnain, the Invaders won five championships in six years between 1984 and 1990. Swanner served last year as a co-owner and Head Coach of the PASL-Pro's St. Louis Illusion.
The Vortex will play in the Eastern Division with Louisville, Cincinnati, Detroit, and St. Louis. The team will make key announcements unveiling its ownership group, major sponsors, schedule and logo in the next two weeks.
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