Tiger Soccer’s First Game Ends in a 1-1 Draw
The St. X soccer team finished its season opener in a 1-1 draw against Central Hardin High School on Tuesday evening. In the varsity team’s first regular season match, the St. X squad experienced ups and downs as they looked to improve the team’s cohesiveness while facing a Central Hardin team that is without doubt one of the five or ten best in the state.
Both teams struggled to find the back of the net through the first 40 minutes of play, and the contest was tied 0-0 at halftime. Junior goalie Davis George made his presence known in the goal as he knocked away multiple Central Hardin opportunities in front of the net. The Tigers managed to find openings in their opponents defense early in the second half, including a shot by senior captain Andrew Schaefer that rocketed passed the keeper in the 44th minute, narrowly missing the goal. Junior Colin Kremer ripped a strike from the top left edge of the box which weaved through multiple players, but was barely knocked away by the Central Hardin keeper. Zach Vititoe continued the Tiger’s surge with two quality strikes from the top of the box in the 46th minute, just missing the target on both attempts.
Just as the Tigers began to find their rhythm, Neal McKiernan was called for a foul inside of St. X’s goalie box in the 49th minute, giving Central Hardin a penalty kick opportunity. George played the kick well, noting that the player was “looking to the right side” and knowing that he was “probably going to go the opposite way to try and throw me off.” George successfully guessed which side the kick was played, but wasn’t able to fully block the strike, allowing the ball to trickle in for the first goal of the game.
St. X responded to the Central Hardin goal with a dominant display of skill in the final 30 minutes of play. Schaefer led the charge, in a time where he later said the team was “picking up the intensity level and playing quick, but not out of control.” In the 74th minute, Schaefer drew a penalty kick inside the opponent goalie box, giving the Tigers an open free kick. Andrew saw that “the goalie was leaning towards the bottom left” and “at the last second decided to go top right”, scoring the equalizer for the Tigers and tying the game at 1-1.
St. X pushed the offense continuously as the final minutes ran down. A huge, yet difficult goal scoring opportunity was presented to senior striker Klayton Grimes in the final minute of the game as the ball floated in the air above a wide-open goal and was headed just over the crossbar from point blank range. The final clock ran down and the game concluded without a winner.
Both George and Schaefer attributed the slow start to the game to a general lack of chemistry. A lot of good players graduated last year, and most guys on this year’s team have yet to find their role. Schaefer said bringing the team together is a major priority.
“We need more bonding as a team,” he explained. “Right now, there are two groups within the team, and I need to work on joining those groups together.”
Although St. X did not take a victory home, optimism was still present after the game.
“I think we exceeded everyone’s expectations tonight,” said George.
“I think if we continue to improve together, we can definitely compete with everybody,” said Schaefer. As he finished his sentence, Head Coach Andy Schulten could be heard walking behind him shouting, “Schaefer you’re my hero!”
It was certainly a promising start to Tiger Soccer’s journey, and there should be plenty more bright spots to look forward to as the season rolls on.