October 22nd, 2020

Tiger defense stifles KCD for region title

Block_eric thorne

Eric Thorne

Staff Writer


Tiger defense stifles KCD for region title
Robert "Sulli" Meyer (left) works to control the ball for St. X. The senior scored a goal in the Tigers 2-1 victory over KCD (photo by Eric Thorne)

The St. Xavier soccer team got first half goals by Robert “Sullie” Meyer and Agustin Gonzalez and their defense made sure that held up for nearly 44 minutes as the Tigers claimed the 7th Region title 2-1 over Kentucky Country Day to earn a trip to the state championship round.

Gonzalez knocked in the go-ahead goal as the first half wound down and the Tigers never let off the gas controlling much of the game in the KCD end of the field.

The Tigers (15-2-1) are the states No. 2 ranked team according to the Maher rankings were playing in their 14th regional final in the past 15 years while the fifth ranked Bearcats were playing in their first since 2014 after upsetting top ranked Collegiate on Monday.

St. X coach Andy Schulten said the matchup may have been the perfect elixir.

“We like to attack and put pressure on teams to make them make plays,” Schulten said. “KCD had a very emotional win over Collegiate and experience tells me that they might have a little bit of a letdown. Plus, we were coming off a win that we were not so happy with our play but with the result. So, we had a little something to prove to ourselves tonight.”

St. X controlled much of the early action and notched the first goal of the game as Carson Kaskocsak launched a perfect throw-in pass from 15-yards out to Meyer who headed the shot past goalkeeper Greg Murphy with 15:14 left. It was the seniors sixth goal of the year.

“We practice that long throw in play all year and we haven’t had a ton of success scoring it, but we’ve had the opportunities and just haven’t been able to put in the back of the net,” Meyer said. “I scored on the same play in the regional semifinals last year, and I love that play and have a lot of history with that play.”

 KCD (13-3) answered with the equalizer when Collin Hawes found Zach Schonwetter crossing in front of the net to the right and the junior forward sent a shot to the left corner with 10:02 to play in the half. It was Hawes’ eighth assist of the year and Schonwetter’s 14th goal.

“This is the toughest region in the state, and we feel very fortunate to be where we are and hats off to KCD they are playing great soccer right now,” Schulten said. “Hats off to our defense I was so impressed with them except for the one little let down on a counter in the first half, but after that they locked it down.”

With 3:31 to play in the half Gonzalez found a deflection off a KCD player and drilled a shot from 24-yards out that found the back of the net for his fifth goal of the year and gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead.

“I saw the ball coming off a rebound and Sullie and a defender was right there too, and the ball was right there in front of me so the first thing I thought of was just take the shot and it went in the back of the net,” Gonzalez said. “It was a great feeling but even better because we did a great job the rest of the way knowing KCD would come at us after that.”

The Tigers opened the second half much as they did in the first constantly sending shot after shot at Murphy, but the senior keeper was solid in goal.

The pace reached a ferocious level as the clock dropped below 10 minutes remaining and three yellow cards were issued in a two-minute span.

“We start from the defense and all the way up and we have such a chemistry together, and when we give it our all we are a very solid team,” Gonzalez said.

While St. X was applying pressure up front it was the back line of Kaskocsak, Greg Walz, Jeffrey Cox and Noah Sirchio that kept KCD away from the Tiger net.

“Our defense played so well and I’m a defensive mid so I’m kind of in that mix and every game we talk about this is our game and we’re going to control this game and not them get what they want – tonight was another example,” Meyer said.

The Tigers begin their quest for a 15th state title when it travels to 5th Region champion Elizabethtown (12-4) on Saturday for a 4pm match. St. X won their only matchup in the season opener. Their last trip to the state tournament was in 2018 where they won it all.

“At St. X we are all about championships and these past four years we’ve been working for this and no one ever let up which got us here,” Meyer said. “At St. X they always say we don’t hang up regional championships there’s a reason we only hang up state championships and that’s the ultimate goal.”

 

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