The Tiger Soccer team won at Floyd Central Tuesday night in a 5-0 shutout and advanced their win streak to three games. Sophomore Lucas Mudd, junior Sam Graber and senior Graham Reynolds all contributed goals in the win.
The Tigers got their first corner kick goal of the year in the 31st minute when Mudd headed it in from a cross from senior Clayton Buruss. The score would remain 1-0 going into halftime.
Reynolds scored his first goal of his senior campaign in the 46th minute, as he kicked the ball in after it had been deflected off the goalie. Graber scored his first goal of his varsity career in the 59th minute off a pass from senior Nolan Hickey to stretch the Tiger’s to 3-0. Mudd and Graber each added another goal in the 67th and 72nd minute to make the final score 5-0 St. X.
“I was just really focused on not making a mistake and putting it in the back corner,” Graber said. “Scoring my first varsity goal was an absolutely spectacular experience.”
NEXT GAME: Thursday vs. #4 South Oldham – 7:30 pm
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.
Soccer was the main focus Wednesday night, as the St. X and Trinity teams congregated at Brother Thomas More Stadium in a showdown of bitter archrivals. The Shamrocks, who are currently ranked #1 in the state, showed their tremendous skill and experience, as they marched into the Tigers’ house and defeated St. X by a final score of 2-0.
Though the score appears one sided, the game was evenly played by both teams up through the first 65 minutes. The Tigers controlled possession for a major chunk of the first half.
After 11 minutes of play, St. X had their first defensive breakdown, allowing Trinity to find an easy path to the goal. Senior goalkeeper Alex Popovich was not ready to let the Rocks score yet, though, and stopped two point-blank attempts by the Trinity forwards, boosting the Tigers’ on-field adrenaline and energizing the home crowd.
The Tigers pressed Trinity early on, and almost converted on multiple occasions. Klayton Grimes gave a hard shot on goal in the 14th minute, but the ball fell right into the hands of the Trinity keeper. Junior Graham Reynolds later missed an open opportunity in the 17th minute with his bicycle kick attempt.
The score was knotted at 0-0 through the first 40 minutes of action.
“We started playing really well in the second half,” junior midfielder Trent Stigler said. “We finally started getting our flow together.”
Stigler, who has been one of the Tiger’s best scoring assets throughout the season, gave St. X a huge chance in the 43rd minute when he one-timed a shot from far outside the box, hitting the top right crossbar. The Tigers carried the momentum of the game into the 54th minute, where Dean Mock created a fast break. Mock found running room in front of him, but missed the goal with his shot.
Two minutes later, Stigler found Mock’s head on a cross into the box, but the redirected shot nearly missed left of the net.
In the 69th minute, the momentum shifted, as Trinity drew a free kick on the edge of St. X’s box. Trinity forward Greg Fischer shot the free kick towards the top left corner, where the ball floated to the back of the Tiger’s net for the game’s first goal.
“When Fischer hit the free kick, our momentum stopped,” Stigler candidly explained.
“After Trinity got the free kick, we went to three defenders back on defense so we could try to get more offense going,” said senior midfielder and captain Clay Brown. “That may have led to easier opportunities (for Trinity) up top. We just had a mentality that if we were going to go down, we would go down swinging.”
St. X’s strategic hopes did not come to fruition, and the stretched defense allowed Trinity to score again in the 73rd minute, giving the Rocks a 2-0 advantage heading into the final minutes of the match.
After 80 minutes of play elapsed, the Rocks claimed the victory. Although a loss to your rival in front of a rowdy Rage Cage inevitably hurts, the team remains confident that they can step up when it matters.
“Come tournament time, this teams needs to be at its peak,” Brown explained with a hint of urgency. “It can absolutely happen.”
“We need to learn how to come back after a goal,” Stigler asserted. “We can’t keep putting our heads down. We need to find a way to get that win back.”
Next on the Tigers’ agenda is their trip to St. Louis, Missouri, where they will face some of the top high school programs in the nation in the Gateway City Classic tournament. The road trip will surely help St. X in continuing preparation for Regional Tournament time, and it could even result in a few W’s for the squad.