October 20th, 2017

George helps Tigers beat Trinity in a thriller

Block_eric thorne

Eric Thorne

Staff Writer

George helps Tigers beat Trinity in a thriller
photo by Eric Thorne

Sometimes you need a little divine intervention, finesse and magic all at the same time and that’s just what Connor George found with a shot that will be talked about at St. Xavier for years.

The predictably unpredictable George found himself undefended along the left sideline with just 61 seconds to play and lofted a shot from 25 yards out that had just enough arc and curve to find its way into the upper corner of the net.

“I was open, even though they had been marking us well all night, so I just sent it and let it fly,” George said grinning. “When I hit it, I thought it looked good, but oh my thank God it went in. We got a lot of chances in the second half and we were due. I’m just glad mine found its way in there.”

The goal sent the Tigers past Trinity 2-1 Thursday night at Christian Academy and into the Seventh Region championship game.

The teams battled for nearly 79 minutes until George, hanging out near the sideline, caught the attention of his teammates that he was open. They got him the ball and he launched the ball towards the front of the goal. However, it continued to curl and found nothing but net.

A stunned George turned from just in the sideline, raised his hands above his head to form an X and roared in celebration. The St. X student section just in front of him broke into a frenzy and as the final seconds ticked off the clock, the players raced to the stands to celebrate.

“Oh that was so great and an incredible feeling right now,” George said. “It was a battle from the beginning and we fought hard, prevailed and we’re still standing and playing on.”

St. X coach Andy Schulten may have not had the best angle from across the field, but sure liked watching the trajectory of the ball as it sailed just over the fingertips of goalkeeper Ryan Troutman.

“Connor’s biggest strength and weakness is he will shoot from anywhere,” Schulten said. “He’s not afraid to pull the trigger. He hit a pill that just kept bending and bending. I’d love to say it’s a bad cross or luck but that’s what Connor has done all year. You just never know.”

For Troutman, the loss was hard to stomach, especially since he and George are friends and played on the same club team.

“I really thought we played a much better game and were the better team, but sometimes that not the way it ends up,” Troutman said. “I give a lot of credit to our defense because they played extremely well and made most of my saves pretty routine.”

St. X (18-3-1) notched the first goal of the game when Sam Reid worked his way down the left sideline, fed Gus Chandler, who gave it back to Reid, and the junior slipped the shot past a diving Troutman with 16:45 left in the first half.

“There is nothing like this feeling going over and celebrating with friends and classmates with an amazing win like this,” Reid said. “This has been our year so far being ranked No. 1 much of the year and despite some ups and downs, we are in our rhythm now.  We’re deep and I think we are capable of bringing home a state title.”

Schulten knew his team had to keep the pressure on.

“When you attack and attack the way we do and that leaves you exposed sometimes and that makes your hair stand on end when you don’t score,” Schulten said. “Trinity gave it to us all night long, and they have speed and talent. I’m just so pleased with the way our defense handled themselves.”

With Trinity coach Dale Helfrich imploring his team to get one goal before halftime the Rocks (16-3-2) responded and Luke Lyle scored the equalizing goal from in front with 4:51 left.

“The guys were confident after that where we seemed in control and that seemed to carry into the second half,” Helfrich said. “We had the better of the play I think, but credit their defense and we didn’t create as many chances as I would have liked and an unfortunate goal decided it. Still it was fun to watch.”

St. X attacked often in the second half but Troutman kept turning away the shots.

“That is one of the best games I have ever played in with it constantly going back and forth the whole game,” Troutman said. “It’s a fun game, even though the scoreboard doesn’t show it, but we had chances and they made big saves. But then we were organized and disciplined as well, and love the way we played.”

Meanwhile the Trinity strikers kept trying to find a seam against the Tiger defense, but found few openings and opportunities.

“Two great teams going and forth it was a great game for our community,” Helfrich said. “I’m proud of our guys despite an unlucky goal with such short time left. Hats off to St. X they were hungry and they got it.”

The game appeared to be headed for extra time when George sent his game winner into the goal. It was the junior’s team leading 16th goal of the season.

For Troutman, the loss was tough to grasp as a turned and looked at the scoreboard wiping away tears with his teammates. However, the talented goalkeeper will continue playing next season at Bowling Green State University.

“It’s an unlucky way to go out, but I’m so proud of our guys and the work ethic we showed all year because you can’t teach it,” Troutman said. “If I have to go out this way I want to do it with the 30 brothers I have on the field, and the other 1,000 brothers at school and in the stands cheering us on - it’s second to none.”

St. X will now to try and advance past the regionals for the first time since 2012 when they won the state title. They will take on Ballard (18-3-1) at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday at CAL.

“These are always classic games when we meet in the postseason, been that way three of the past five years,” Schulten said. “We were very fortunate to come out of this one because we could have easily been the one burying our face on the sideline right now. Now we have to quickly recover because Ballard just might be the best team in the state right now.”


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