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2014 Saint Xavier Soccer is in the Books

Senior striker Klayton Grimes chases a ball Thursday night against Trinity. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

Senior striker Klayton Grimes chases a ball Thursday night against Trinity. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

Thursday night the Tigers battled against arch-rival Trinity in their third playoff game. The Tigers came into the game holding on to a seven game winning streak, and hoped to continue their pace.

Trinity, who beat St. X 2-0 in the regular season matchup, proved to be too much for the Tigers to handle, though, and defeated St. X by a final score of 3-0.

Just as the previous matchup had gone, the game started out even, with both teams having good offensive pressure. Nearing the end of the first half, Trinity broke through the Tiger’s defensive line with a great cross, and Kyler Armistead scored the first goal of the game.

The Rocks carried the momentum into the second half, as they continually pressured the Tiger’s end of the field. Again in the 52nd minute, Armistead scored, boosting the Rocks out to a 2-0 lead.

The final goal was scored by Trinity in the 70th minute on a header by Drew Goetze after a beautiful corner kick from Sam Stockton, giving the Rocks a nearly impenetrable lead as the game headed into the final ten minutes of action. After full time, the Rocks prevailed victorious over the Tigers, knocking St. X out of the playoffs and ending the Tigers’ season.

“We had trouble coming from behind and rebounding from the goals,” said senior midfielder and captain Clay Brown. “We played the game we were going to play and that’s about it.  Goals were going to be let in, but we just couldn’t rebound.”

“I wish we could have given you guys a better result,” remarked Senior Dean Mock, “But I’m proud of the way we fought. I appreciate all the fans coming out.”

As far as looking back on his soccer journey at St. X, Brown was nothing short of grateful.

“The tradition at St. X is great, but its really the guys and the memories with the team that are the best.”

Trinity has advanced to play KCD in Region 7 Final on October 25th.

All of us here at WSTX Sports want to give the Tiger Soccer team our best wishes, and thank them for such a great 2014 season.  It was certainly one to be remembered.

St. X Soccer Absorbs Tough Spirit Week Loss

Senior striker Dean Mock makes a leaping attempt to intercept a Trinity pass Wednesday night. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

Senior striker Dean Mock makes a leaping attempt to intercept a Trinity pass Wednesday night. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

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.

Tiger Soccer falls to Brebeuf Prep

Coach Porta and Coach Durbin talk to the team at halftime Saturday afternoon. | Photo by Chris Raymond

Coach Porta and Coach Durbin talk to the team at halftime Saturday afternoon. | Photo by Chris Raymond

Following a night filled with patriotism and St. X spirit, the Tiger Soccer team faced off against Brebeuf Preparatory High School, who traveled down to Brother Thomas More Stadium from Indianapolis. The Tigers had accrued a three-game winning streak following their season turnaround; yet on Saturday, Brebeuf showed why they were nationally ranked, defeating St. X 2-0.

At the onset of the match, St. X passes were crisp and direct. Andrew Schaefer and Klayton Grimes continued their partnered attack on offense, as Schaefer continually played through balls to Grimes. Though the Tigers played a solid first half, they struggled to finish shots on goal, making the game a 0-0 tie going into halftime.

In the 50th minute, St. X found its best offensive chance of the day. Austin Goodman launched a pass over the head of the Brebeuf defenders, leading Andrew Schaefer to a wide open fast break. Schaefer struck the ball well, but just missed the goal. This miss proved to be costly, as Brebeuf was able to counter in the 57th minute with the first goal of the game.

“Once we fell behind by one goal, everyone’s heads immediately lowered,” Tiger Head Coach Andy Schulten explained.  “We let them get one step ahead of us, and that’s what gave them the edge.”

Following Brebeuf’s first goal, the Tigers struggled to play with the cohesiveness they had in the first half. In the 69th minute, the Braves scored their second goal off of a cross into the middle, sealing the win. After 80 full minutes of play, St. X lost 2-0, ending the winning streak.

“Don’t get frustrated,” Coach Schulten pleaded to his team. “That was a really good team we just played. We had a couple of decent opportunities in the second half. We just have to put these things away. Its just another learning experience, and a good one to bounce back from.”

The Tigers face in-state opponent Eastern High School on Monday night in an attempt to regain their goal-scoring swagger. Coach Schulten and the Tigers are confident in their ability to defeat the Eagles and get back on track.  Game time is set for 7:00 PM.

Tiger Soccer Keeps Rolling With Win Over Collins

Klayton Grimes operates inside the Collins Titans' box Tuesday night. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

Klayton Grimes operates inside the Collins Titans’ box Tuesday night. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

The Saint Xavier Tigers entered a brisk Tuesday evening match coming off of their second win of the season, a 2-0 victory over Greenwood High School in Bowling Green. Senior striker Klayton Grimes led the charge against Greenwood, having scored both of the Tiger’s goals in their monumental win. Heading into their game against Martha Layne Collins High School Titans, St. X looked to keep their newly discovered offensive flow alive.

Klayton Grimes described the Tiger’s play Saturday against Greenwood as “finally getting back on track.” He explained that the victory over Greenwood was a great win, but there is still plenty of work to do.

“This team has not played to their full potential yet. We still have a long way to.”

Tuesday’s match against Collins showed the hidden potential the Tigers possess, as they came out ready to play from the first whistle. The midfielders kept the Collins defenders on their toes, pushing passes through gaps, trying to create fast break chances. In the 6th minute, the Tigers received a free kick on the left outer edge of the goalie box. Juniors Colin Kremer and Trent Stigler ran a perfect trick play, eventually leaving Kremer wide open from straight on. Kremer ripped the shot from the top center of the box, placing it in the right corner of the goal for an early Tiger lead.

The second Tiger goal came in he the 12th minute on a break-away opportunity given to Klayton Grimes. Grimes corralled the ball and flicked it passed the charging Titan goalie, giving the Tigers a quick 2-0 lead over Collins which would last throughout the remainder of the match.

Tuesday’s match was a big step in the right direction for multiple reasons. In the 61st minute, Senior left back Michael Elder entered the game, making his first appearance this season. Elder, having recovered from two meniscus surgeries on his left knee, made a couple of great stops in the defensive zone, reminding us why he is such a vital component to a successful St. X team.

“It felt really good,” Elder said, with a smile on his face, on his season debut. “I finally got to get back to playing my hardest and working with my team.”

Elder and the rest of the Tigers held Collins scoreless for the remaining time in the game, recording their second straight win with a final score of 2-0.  After not scoring a single goal in four games (A span of 15 days) earlier in the season, St. X has now found the back of the net four times in their last two games (four days).

“We had good outside wing play,” explained Elder. “We all hustled to everything, which helped us connect with the strikers.”

To Junior Trent Stigler, the overall improvements came from the success with “moving the ball on the ground.”

“We played nice through-balls up to the forwards, and the forwards made nice runs,” Stigler explained.

When asked how the Tigers will continue their winning streak, Stigler responded with a smile, saying frankly, “Score more goals.”

The Tigers now look ahead to their game on Thursday, as they visit Manual in another important game. St. X looks to keep their winning streak alive with a continuation of their smart offensive and defensive play.  Gametime is set for 7:30.

Recap: St. Xavier 1, Collegiate 0

Klayton Grimes plays a ball off his chest against Collegiate | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

Klayton Grimes plays a ball off his chest against Collegiate | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

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!

Tiger Soccer is Ready to Go

Clay Brown will be a force this season for the Tigers. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

Clay Brown will be a force this season for the Tigers. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

Saint Xavier High School did not take home the soccer state championship last season after capturing back-to-back titles the previous two seasons.

However, that may not necessarily be a bad thing.  This year’s group of Tigers are hungrier than ever to reclaim their spot atop the mountain.

St. X loses 12 seniors from last season’s team, including prolific strikers Joe Workman and Jack Somervell along with a premier goalkeeper in Wes Luvisi.  Although the Tigers lose a lot of talent from graduation, they still have a lot of skill and ability to work with.

“We still have a lot to work on, but we have the potential to make a run in the (state) tournament this year,” says senior striker Klayton Grimes.  “We don’t have any star players.  We are just a solid team.”

It will be up to Grimes and fellow senior striker Dean Mock to replace the production of Workman and Somervell.  Workman led the team in goals during both his junior and senior seasons, and it will be very interesting to see if Mock and Grimes can fill the large shoes of the departed seniors.

The state of affairs in the midfield is perhaps the most exciting part of this year’s Tigers.  Wizard midfielders Bobby Buse and Matt “Kid” Effinger are no longer a part of the squad, but there are plenty of promising Tigers to make up for the losses.  Seniors Zach Vititoe, Clay Brown, Andrew Schaefer, and Austin Goodman will be great, and they will also be aided by juniors Trent Stigler and Colin Kremer.  Stigler and Kremer logged very important minutes on the varsity stage last season as sophomores, and they could be in store for huge third seasons.

The back end of Tiger Soccer should be as impressive as ever.  Luvisi graduates, but the Tigers return another stellar stopper in senior Alex Popovich. Much like it was last season with Luvisi, it will be extremely tough for opponents to get anything past him, as his quick insticts and agility allow him to react to any shot in an instant.

Grimes says that St. X’s depth will help the Tigers a lot, but one thing the team needs to work on is making all the players work in synchronized organization.

“One of our strengths this year will be our numbers.  We have a lot of players who can come off the bench and play,” Grimes explains.  “We still need to work on our communication, though.  The key to making the run (to state) will be leadership.”

Regardless of how much talent a team has at its disposal, it really helps when a strong head coach can anchor the unit.  Luckily for St. X, it has one of the best in Andy Schulten.  He has proven through the years that he is one of the best coaches in America, even winning the National Coach of the Year one season.  The players recognize how important he and top assistant Nathan Durbin are to team success.

“They are vital to the team,” says Grimes.  “They push us everyday in practice and make us better players everyday.”

The Tigers began their season on Tuesday with a 4-1 victory over Christian Academy in a scrimmage.  Brown and Schaefer each put two shots pass the Centurion goalie to fuel St. X.  It wasn’t hard at all to notice Schaefer’s impact on the game; he was a blur, flying everywhere and constantly disrupting CAL’s rhythm.

Brown was happy to be on the field with his teammates for the first time in while.  Like many players and fans, he’s excited for what this season could hold.

“It felt good to be back out there with the team,” Brown says.  “We still have a couple of holes we need to fill to be where we want, but I think we have the right people out there to fill them.”

 

Photo Gallery from CAL Scrimmage