Recap: St. Xavier 1, Collegiate 0
It was a scorching hot Sunday afternoon when the Saint Xavier Tigers met the Collegiate Titans in a game that had been rescheduled twice. The circumstances on attempt number three were still not ideal, but the game was played anyways. The heat took a visible toll on both sides, but a costly error late allowed St. X to take home a huge district victory with postseason implications, defeating the Titans 1-0 in overtime.
Neither side could get any rhythm going for much of the game. Because of high heat index readings, the game was broken into four 20-minute quarters, instead of the normal 40-minute halves. There were 10-minute water breaks between quarters. The abnormal structure of the game as well as the heat resulted in a very slow start for both teams.
“We came out a little nervous again, like the last game,” said senior midfielder Andrew Schaefer, who put the game-winning “golden” goal in the back of the net. “I think this game should have ended much earlier. We came out here thinking this (Collegiate) team wasn’t very skilled. We learned a lot. They can really bring it to us.”
At halftime, the match was still scoreless. Much like their first game against Central Hardin High School, the Tigers simply struggled creating quality scoring opportunities. When chances did come, St. X couldn’t capitalize.
“We need to work more on finishing during practice,” Schaefer explained. “Our strength is definitely in the midfield, so we just need to start possessing [the ball] more. We just need to step it up.”
The second half was very similar to the first half; whether it was because of the heat or not, neither team played exceptionally sharp. There were several mistakes, and the game could probably be characterized by a different player complaining to the referees every few minutes throughout the contest.
However, the Titans gained a golden opportunity to score first when St. X was called for a foul in its own box, giving Collegiate a penalty kick. But the attempt was wide right, keeping then game tied up at zero. That would prove to be the last legitimate hope either team had of getting a goal in regulation.
80 minutes passed without either team getting on the board. Normally, the game would end in a draw, but because this was a district match carrying importance in the future, there would be two extra periods of five minutes before PK’s. District games are also played under the “golden goal” rule, meaning overtime is also sudden death, with the first goal scored by either side immediately ending the match.
Before the first extra frame began, St. X Head Coach Andy Schulten told his team to be smart and aware, saying, “The first team to make a mistake will lose this game.”
Three minutes into overtime, Collegiate made a crippling error. Tiger striker Klayton Grimes was in hot pursuit of the ball inside the Titans’ box and to the right of the goal. Collegiate’s only player in the area was sophomore Jackson Geer. Geer got to the ball first, but he sent a soft pass back to his goalie. Grimes intercepted the ball before senior Titan goalkeeper Harper White could get his hands on it. Grimes gathered himself, then flicked the ball in front of a wide open goal. Schaefer raced down the middle of the box and whipped the ball through the net to end the game.
The Tigers jubilantly celebrated at midfield, while the Titans crumpled to the turf in defeat. It was as stark a contrast of emotions as anyone will ever see on a field, in any sport. Both teams were utterly exhausted after the match; this wasn’t a case of “one team wanting it more than the other.” This game was huge for both teams; the winner would have a coveted cushion when district tournament play begins at the conclusion of the regular season. When tournament play starts, St. X won’t have to win every game from then on; they can lose once and still be in the hunt for a state championship. They have that advantage because they won this game.
The game was only the second that St. X has played to this point. It was originally scheduled for Friday night at 6:00 p.m., but lightning forced it to be moved to Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. The match had to be moved to Sunday when there were no referees available on Saturday morning.
The Tigers are back in action this coming Friday and Saturday, when they take on Missouri powers Oletangy Liberty High School and St. Louis University High School. St. X will face Liberty on Friday at 8:00 p.m. and play SLUH on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. These will be two electric games, so be sure to come support your soccer team, Tiger Nation!