October 21st, 2017

St. X soccer ends 7th Region title drought

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Conor Revell

Staff Writer


St. X soccer ends 7th Region title drought
The Tigers with the Seventh Region title trophy / photo by Conor Revell

St. Xavier’s soccer program been waiting for this day, it’s finally here, and the club is one step closer to getting back to the top.

The Tigers defeated Ballard 3-1 at Christian Academy Saturday night in the Seventh Region championship game.

“I don’t really try to coach against other teams, I try to coach my team up to the level that I think they can play at,” St. Xavier head coach Andy Schulten said. “I saw something in these guys that reminded me of teams in the past. That doesn’t mean last year’s team or the team before that weren’t good – they just ran into some bad luck. I’m really happy of these guys, our program, and school. We had a huge turnout tonight to support us.”

It’s the program first regional championship since 2012 - that’s a long wait considering Schulten and the Tigers (19-3-2) won eight state championships from 2000-2012.

“Oh my gosh; I’m speechless,” St. X’s Zach Bannon said. “It feels like yesterday that we were at freshmen tryouts and now we’re seniors. We are headed back to the state tournament for the first time since 2012 and we’re not done yet. Our only goal is to win a state title; we are going to bring the program back to the top.”

Five years ago, St. X was in the midst of celebrating a 3-peat; few, if any, thought that was going to be the last celebration for a while.

But, there was plenty of drama, and the Tigers had to fight to the last tick.

Alex Pisacrita scored off a Gus Chandler assist to put the Tigers up 1-0 with 9:24 to go in the first half.

“I don’t remember exactly what happened,” Pisacrita said. “But, I do remember the ball was in the air and Gus (Chandler) took a touch. The defender kind of took a bite and I just went in there and tapped it into the goal.”

The real drama happened in the second half when Ryan Nichols was red-carded and forced St. X to play a man down.

“We have a tendency to put a lot of pressure on ourselves,” Schulten said. “We had to sit back and calm down. We have a goal lead and we know we’re a very good team. We know that we are a tough team to score on. Zach got the goal and that allowed us to calm down. Credit Ballard for coming back and getting the goal. They put a lot of pressure on us and had a chance to take the lead. It was just about winning the headers for us.”

But, despite being a man down, Bannon headed in a corner kick from Cox giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead with 23:46 remaining.

“It was funny,” Bannon said. “Coach Durbin told me to stay back, but I couldn’t hear him, so I went up and Case played a great ball in. I’ve been struggling to finish all year on corner kicks and I saw it in the air and I knew that ball was mine and I put it in the back of the net. It was a great feeling.”

Tony Gumbo scored the Bruins (18-4-1) lone goal when he fired a shot into the net to get Ballard within 2-1 with 21 minutes left.

“We knew they were going to throw players forward, we had 10 players, they had 11,” St. X goalkeeper Haydon Korfhage said. “We were going to be outmatched the rest of the game. We had to make sure we had people back. We saw the long ball and knew when that happned we needed to have certain guys marked.”

Cox’s goal with 18.3 seconds left iced the sweet victory.

“The whole game I was hustling my butt off and nothing was falling,” Cox said. “That last goal was for the team. I wanted to put that one in there to put the game away.”

Both teams had plenty of chance to score.

St. X fired 14 shots and had three corner kicks. Ballard goalkeeper Tyler Voyer made six saves.

The Bruins took 10 shots. Korfhage stopped seven shots for the Tigers.

“As a coach I try to focus on defense more and give our guys freedom on the attack,” Schulten said. “We set them up in a general formation and give them ideas and then we let the players play. Case came up to me at one point and asked if I minded him to try this. I told him he’s the player and he can make the choice. You saw the play, he got the goal.”

St. X advances to Semi-State Three and will host Central Hardin at 7 p.m. Monday.

“We need to put this one behind us,” Pisacrita said. “We’re on an emotional high so tomorrow we need to start focusing on our next game and that’s Central Hardin.”

The Tigers beat Central Hardin 3-2 to start the season back in August.

“That first game seems like it was so long ago,” Schulten said. “I know that they are one of the better coached team we will ever face. He’s on top of his team and he’s an outstanding coach. He has a great system he runs. I’ll watch some film tonight and tomorrow and see what I can come up with on defense and let our players play.” 

 

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