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.
Today, the members of the St. Xavier Student Activities Council spent the day decorating the halls of St. X in preparation for Spirit Week. We can’t wait to see what else is in store for this week as we get ready to “Beat The Weeds” this Friday.