The St. X soccer team advanced over Ballard High School on Tuesday night to keep themselves on track towards the state championship. In what was a scoreless game for 90 full minutes, The Tigers prevailed in penalty kicks to knock out the Bruins, who had defeated the Tigers 1-0 earlier in the regular season.
Solid possessions were hard to come by for both teams in the match, and the scoreboard reflected this. St. X had dominated in recent games, but their scoring fire power was tamed by the Bruins defense. After full regulation time had passed and still no team had scored, the teams played two 5-minute halves of sudden death overtime. St. X finally started to attack hard on net in the second overtime period, but still could not convert.
Overtime passed, and the game went in to penalty kicks. Both Ballard and the Tigers made their first three penalty kicks. On Ballard’s fourth attempt, Bruin striker Tucker Monheimer hit the ball high and far outside of the goal. Junior Colin Kremer followed the Bruin miss, nailing the ball “exactly where I always hit it in practice.” The game came down to Graham Reynold’s attempt. He struck the ball with poise and netted it past the keeper, immediately ending the game and giving St. X the victory.
“I was completely confident in our team,” Junior Goalie Davis George said after the game. “We’re starting to play as a team and people are starting to notice us.”
“This team can do a lot more than most people think,” Reynolds said with a smile, having just clinched the victory. “Our work ethic and skill combined puts us at a level that’s beyond most other teams in the state.” Thursday night, Graham explained, is just another chance to show “everybody that we can be the best.”
St. X plays Trinity in a grudge match on Thursday at Assumption Green in the next round of playoffs. Trinity, who defeated the Tigers in the regular season by a score of 2-0, is coming off of their first round of regional playoffs, where they defeated Central High School by enforcing the mercy rule, 10-0. In the earlier match between the Tigers and the Rocks, the difference in score came late in the game off of two quick goals from Trinity’s Greg Fischer.
So far in the playoffs, St. X has defeated two teams that beat them previously in the regular season.
“That certainly seems to be a trend, doesn’t it,” said Kremer with a smirk. “I love the underdog role. We don’t have anything to lose. Whatever happens happens, but we’re going to put it all on the line.”
St. X is currently rolling on a 7 game winning streak, and the Tigers don’t intend to have their streak stopped on Thursday.
It’s win-or-go-home time for Saint Xavier Soccer. Tuesday night, they got their postseason started against the Collegiate Titans in the first round of the District 26 tournament. After Male High School defeated Brown High School by a final score of 7-1, the Tigers knew they would get a shot at revenge if they could get past the Titans first.
They will get their shot at redemption after defeating Collegiate 2-1 on a cool night. There was no rain to deal with, and the St. X offense took advantage of the game relocation to Brother Thomas More Stadium, scoring two goals in a seven-minute span in the second half to secure its second win over Collegiate this season.
The first half featured a lot of back-and-forth action, with both teams getting a couple of good scoring chances but coming up empty-handed. Collegiate goalie Harper White and St. X junior goalkeeper Davis George were both stout in goal in the first 40 minutes, and the score was knotted up at 0-0 at halftime.
“My defense played exceptionally well,” George said. “They absolutely rose to the occasion. I think it just clicked today, and we had everyone playing as a team, not just for themselves.”
The game remained scoreless into the second half, but the Tigers broke through in the 60th minute, as junior midfielder Graham Reynolds maneuvered the ball inside the Titans’ box and flicked a slow roller just past White for the first goal of the game.
In the 67th minute, senior striker Dean Mock found himself just outside the box with space to shoot, and he fired a rocket into the back of the net to give St. X a second goal for insurance.
“Well, there was window between two defenders, and Clayton Burruss sent me a beautiful ball,” Mock explained. “I had a sense that I didn’t want to end my soccer career here. I had to make that shot, and I did.”
St. X Head Coach Andy Schulten had been waiting for Mock to breakthrough for a while now, saying that he has been great in practice.
“Dean has been making those shots in practice all season,” said Coach Schulten.
The Titans put one past George in the 70th minute on a penalty kick, but the Tigers held on for the final ten minutes to advance. After the game, the Tigers celebrated in front of a rowdy Rage Cage that was cheering loudly all night.
“It was great,” Mock explained. “We didn’t want to bring shame to the St. X soccer program by being knocked out this early. We knew what we had to do. We have to keep going.”
The Tigers’ win sets up a huge showdown for the 26th District Championship against Male on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. on the Bulldogs’ home grass. During the regular season, St. X dropped a 1-0 match to Male at home that was part of an early four-game losing streak. Now, the Tigers have won five straight games and have one thing on their minds: revenge.
“I am furious that they won the first leg,” Mock said. “I think the whole team wants to put [Male] in their place. They know where they’re at, and we know where we’re at.”
Both St. X and Male will advance to the Seventh Region Tournament regardless of the final outcome Thursday night. If the Tigers want to get out of the seventh region, they will likely have to go through arch-rival and #1 Trinity, but Mock is confident that the team has the necessary pieces to return to the promise land and take home a state title.
“I think we work harder than any other team, and just because we couldn’t string things together at the beginning of the season doesn’t mean we can’t now,” Mock explained. “We’re getting better and better every game, and I think we will keep our momentum and keep rolling.”
“Each day, I’m thankful for every second I spend on this field, and I don’t want it to end anytime soon,” Mock said. “When it does end, I want to feel like I did everything I could to prevent that.”
On Monday night the “Who’s your daddy” cheer was heard echoing throughout the stands at St. X, as students dressed up for “Dad night” while cheering on the soccer team as they faced Eastern High School. After losing over the weekend, the Tigers looked to regain a winning touch.
With the help of two new goal scorers, St. X was able to take home a 2-0 win.
In the recent past, St. X has made quick work of the Eastern soccer team, and tonight was no exception.
Right from the start, the Tigers secured control of the ball, and possessed without much disruption from the Eastern defense. Within the first ten minutes, five quality shots had been placed on goal, but the Eagles’ keeper swallowed them up. In the 23rd minute, St. X finally converted on an offensive chance. Senior Dean Mock dribbled through the crowded goalie box, finding an opening on the near right side, and fired a shot past the goalie, giving Mock his first goal of the season and St. X the 1-0 lead.
“It felt magical,” Mock said describing his excitement of putting his first goal in the back of the net. “This opens up a lot of doors for me.”
Unexpected offensive help came from the defense as well. Senior defender Michael Elder carried the ball up the sideline and crossed it through the box multiple times, including a chance that Mock nearly knocked home for a second goal. In the 53rd minute, Senior defender and captain Neal McKiernan ripped a shot to the corner of the net, making the score 2-0.
After McKiernan’s strike, St. X junior goalkeeper Davis George took the game into his own hands. He made an incredible save in the 72nd minute to conserve the two goal advantage and was a solid brick wall for the entire contest.
After 80 minutes had come and gone, the Tigers could rest well with their fourth win in five games.
“We had a rocky start this season,” Mock explained. “But we’re really starting to pick up our game.”
Mock said the key to the Tigers recent surge has been “conversions up top with our offense.”
“I wish we could have scored more goals, but I’m proud that we had no real lapses in our defense,” Mock finished. “Neal’s goal shows how versatile we can be as a team when we’re on our game.”
The St. X soccer team plays again today against Brown High School. The game kicks off early, starting at 5:00. The Tigers look to keep scoring goals as they host another solid in-state opponent.
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.