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Posted on 10/22/2018    

Top Seeds Moeller, St. Xavier Advance To District Semifinals

It was a busy night last Thursday for the Greater Catholic League South Division soccer teams, as all four schools were in action as part of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division I Sectional / District Tournaments across Greater Cincinnati.  The end result for the league was two up and two down, as top seeds Moeller and St. Xavier, respectively, advanced with victories, while Elder and La Salle had their postseason journeys halted in a pair of close matches to perennial strong soccer programs.

No. 1 Moeller (14-1-3) recorded its second consecutive shutout of the week, defeating Western Hills, 6-0, Thursday at the Gerry Faust Athletic Com[plex on the school’s Montgomery Road campus.  Six different players scored for the Crusaders, including tallies by Parker Grinstead and Jake Renneker in the first 3:06, to allow Moeller to advance to meet Colerain in a district semifinal match at 7 p.m. today at Hamilton High School.  Grinstead, Renneker, Ben Hegge and Ethan Howell each recorded a goal and an assist for Moeller, which beat Winton Woods, 4-0, in last Monday’s sectional opener.  Colerain (8-7-3) beat Walnut Hills, 1-0, Thursday to stay alive in the postseason.

No. 2 St. Xavier (11-3-3) also was victorious, defeating Hamilton, 3-1, at St. Xavier Stadium for its fourth straight victory and the opportunity to face Milford (13-3-2) at 7 p.m. today in another district semifinal at Princeton High School’s Viking Stadium.  Milford, a member of the Eastern Cincinnati Conference with a perfect 6-0 record in October, beat Northwest, 5-1, and Withrow, 4-2, last week to advance to today’s match.  The Bombers are looking to become the first GCL South team to defeat a member of the Eastern Cincinnati Conference this postseason.

The season came to an end for Elder and La Salle Thursday, as the two GCL South teams lost close matches to perennial Cincinnati soccer powers and ECC members.  Elder (6-7-5) lost at Turpin, 1-0.  Turpin advances to meet Lakota East at 7 p.m. today at Lakota West in West Chester.  Turpin  is 13-1-2 this season, the Spartans’ lone loss coming to Loveland, 4-0, in the regular-season finale.  La Salle (6-10-2) was defeated by another Forest Hills Local School District team – falling to Anderson, 2-0, on the road.   Anderson (11-3-2) advances to meet Little Miami at 7 p.m. today at Sycamore High School.

Posted on 10/21/2018

GCL South Teams Winless Against Perennial NE Ohio Powers

Just a few hours a part Saturday, St. Xavier and Moeller surrendered second-half leads and lost close games to Northeast Ohio football powers Cleveland St. Ignatius and Lakewood St. Edward, respectively, in games that resembled the type of pay and finishes that exemplify the Ohio High School Athletic Association state football playoffs that kick off in two weeks.

St. Ignatius rallied from a 20-10 deficit midway through the third quarter to score the game’s final 17 points in a 27-20 win at St. Xavier Stadium, while St. Edward scored on a long pass play with just 1:19 remaining to defeat Moeller, 29-22, early Saturday evening at Lockland’s Roettger Stadium.

The victories gave the two Greater Cleveland schools at perfect 5-0 record against the Greater Catholic South Division this season in what has become an annual gridiron series between perennial Division I contenders located in opposite corners of the state.  St. Ignatius is 3-0 against the league, having already defeated Elder, 17-7, and Moeller, 32-7, both at home, before the comeback win at St. Xavier.  St. Edward came to Cincinnati and rallied from a 28-14 halftime deficit to outscore Elder, 22-2, in the final two quarters to post a 36-30 victory back in week four.  

For over 30 minutes on a sunny but very windy afternoon, it looked like St. Xavier might be ready to notch a key win in its quest to earn a spot in the state playoffs.   With 8:34 remaining in the third quarter, junior quarterback Wyatt Hudepohl connected with sophomore Liam Clifford for a 34-yard touchdown and a 20-10 lead for the Bombers.  But, less than two minutes later, St. Ignatius senior quarterback Peter Delahunty connected with junior Connor Cmiel on a 54-yardd scoring strike to make it 20-17.

A 37-yard field goal just nine seconds into the fourth quarter by the Wildcats’ Rory McConville tied it at 20, where it remained until Delahunty tossed his third TD pass of the game, this one four yards to tight end Aidan Wells to give his team a 27-20 lead – which turned out to be the final score.  Delahunty had a big day, completing 20-of-28 passes for 311 yards, three scores and two interceptions.  Cmiel was his favorite target, hauling in seven passes for 187 yards and a pair of TDs.  The Wildcats finished with 448 total yards, but were guilty of four turnovers – one less than St. Xavier on a day plagued by brutal winds at Ballaban Field.

The rally by St. Ignatius (7-2) was good for its seventh straight victory after opening the season with consecutive losses to Archbishop Hoban and Mentor.  The defeat snapped a two-game winning streak for St. Xavier (4-5), but was the fourth loss in the last six games for the Bombers.

Senior Chris Payne led St. Xavier, rushing 14 times for 126 yards and a TD, a 93-yarder in the first quarter that gave the Bombers an early 6-0 lead.  Payne has run for 100-plus yards in two of the last three games (the other one gaining 97), carrying 38 times for 367 yards and five TDs during that stretch.  Hudepohl finished 20-of-36 passing for 216 yards and two TDs, but was intercepted four times.

Moeller, the GCL South outright champion, was looking to solidify one of the top four spots in the regional rankings to secure a first-round home game.  The Crusaders appeared headed to doing just that, after scoring twice in the fourth quarter to erase a 21-12 deficit and take a 22-21 lead against St. Edward – No. 9 in the Associated Press DI state poll this week.  The Crusaders made it 21-19 on a 15-yard TD pass from senior quarterback Mitch McKenzie to junior Max Land with 8:28 left, and then took their first lead. 22-21, since the first quarter when junior kicker Kevin Thibodeaux nailed an 18-yard field goal, his third of the game, with 3:27 remaining.

But St. Edward wasn’t finished, as the Eagles mounted what turned out to be the game-winning drive – scoring on a 39-yard TD pass from senior quarterback Garrett Dzuro to senior speedster Quintel Kent – a University of Michigan commit – with 1:19 left.  Chris Elliott caught a pass from Dzuro for the two-point conversion to give St. Edward a 29-22 lead.  Moeller attempted to rally, but a McKenzie pass was intercepted in the end zone with one second remaining.

McKenzie threw for 146 yards for Moeller (6-3), including two TD passes.  Khayo had four catches for 100 yards, including a 50-yard reception and score that helped cut the St. Edward lead to 14-12 midway through the third quarter.  Thibodeux continued his outstanding kicking, going 3-of-4 on field goals (also hitting from 31 and 46 yards).  He is now 13-of-17 this season and has made all 18 extra points.

Dzuro was held to just 61 yards passing by the Moeller defense, which also forced four turnovers.  But the Eagles’ QB made it up on the ground, carrying 21 times for a game-high 173 yards and three scores – on runs of 64, 10 and 24 yards, respectively.  Back Jordan Castleberry also went over 100 yards for St. Edward (7-2), finishing with 121 yards on the ground.

According to joeeitel.com, which unofficially projects the Harbin computer ratings that are released each Tuesday by the OHSAA, St. Xavier remains at No. 11 in Region 4 after all of the week nine games.  The Bombers will need a win over Louisville St. Xavier (7-2) at home this Friday to keep their state playoff hopes alive.  It was just two seasons ago that coach Steve Specht’s team became the first Ohio high school to earn a state playoff berth with a 5-5 record and then go on to win a state championship – defeating St. Ignatius, 27-20, in double overtime in the DI state final at Ohio Stadium in Columbus.

Moeller now sits at No. 5 according to Joe Eitel, falling out of the top four spots and the chance to host a first-round game.  But the Crusaders could pick up plenty of points if they can defeat Winton Woods (8-1), winner of eight straight games, in the regular-season finale in Lockland this Friday.  Elder (5-4) is in the fourth position, behind Colerain, Fairfield and Mason, heading into Friday’s game at home against La Salle.  The Lancers (4-4), who have won three of the last four DII state titles, will need a road win to have any chance of qualifying for postseason play this year.  La Salle is projected by Joe Eitel to be at N0. 10 when this week’s ratings are released.

Posted on 10/20/2018

St. Xavier, Moeller Host NE Ohio Powers This Afternoon

A week after being held scoreless in the second half of a 28-10 home loss to Winton Woods, Elder got back on track offensively in the first half Frida night – scoring 20 first-quarter points and the game’s first 27 – all on touchdown runs by senior Luke Masminster on its way to a 48-7 victory over St. John Vianney from St. Louis at The it in Price Hill.

Elder (5-4) is fifth in this week’s Ohio Division I, Region 4 Harbin computer ratings used to qualify teams for the state playoffs. The top eight from each region earn a berth, with the top four teams hosting first-round games.

Masminster – who came into the game only having scored two TDs this season with a high of 56 rushing yards against Lakewood St. Edward in week four – scored on runs of 8, 22 and 2 yards, respectively, in the first quarter, then ran 1 yard for a TD in the second quarter before capping his memorable evening with a 6-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter. He finished with 24 carries for 142 yards for Elder, which ran for 200 yards and averaged 5.1 yards per attempt. Senior quarterback Michael Bittner was effective, too, completing 11-of-15 passes for 165 yards and one score.

It was not as plentiful a night for Greater Catholic League South Division colleague La Salle – which was shut out, 34-0, at Lancer Stadium by Trinity Catholic, also from St. Louis. The loss dropped La Salle (4-4) into a likely must-win situation in its final regular-season game at Elder next Friday at The Pit in order to qualify for the Division II state playoffs. The Lancers did not play a week earlier when International School of Broward, Fla. was unable to make the trek to Cincinnati because of the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.

Against Trinity Catholic (7-2), which has won seven straight, the Lancers were never unable to get going offensively. La Salle finished with 11 first downs and was held to 90 yards rushing on 32 carries, a 2.8-yard average per rush, and completed 10-of-32 passes. La Salle managed to convert just 3-of-15 third downs, and fell behind 21-0 at halftime. The loss was the third straight for La Salle following a four-game winning streak that had the Lancers sitting 4-1 entering its GCL South opener in week six, a game Moeller won, 2-114, in overtime at Lancer Stadium.

La Salle won three straight state titles from 2014 through 2016, and then advanced to the DII regional final last season before losing to Winton Woods, 16-14.

St. Xavier and Moeller are in action today, with the Bombers (4-4) hosting Cleveland St. Ignatius at 2 p.m. at St. Xavier Stadium. St. Xavier faces St. Ignatius (6-2), winner of six straight, today and then Louisville St. Xavier (7-2) on Friday, October 26 in its quest for a postseason berth. The Bombers sit at No. 11 in Region 4 this week, but most prognosticators believe that St. Xavier would earn a playoff spot by winning the last two games – both of which are at home. Two years ago, St. Xavier became the first team in Ohio history to enter the postseason at 5-5 and win a state championship.

Moeller (6-2), which lost to St. Ignatius, 32-7, last Saturday in Greater Cleveland, is vying for postseason position when it plays St. Edward (6-2) – No. 9 in this week’s Associated Press DI state poll – at 4 p.m. today at Lockland’s Roettger Stadium. The Crusaders are currently third in the Region 4 Harbin ratings, and could likely wrap up one of the top four spots with a victory today or in the regular-season finale against Winton Woods (8-1) next Friday.  

St. Ignatius and St. Edward are a perfect 3-0 against the GCL South this season. St. Edward outscored Elder, 22-2, in the second half to rally from a 28-14 halftime deficit to earn a 36-30 win earlier this season over the Panthers at The Pit. St. Ignatius has defeated both Elder and Moeller by a combined score of 49-14 in two games played in Greater Cleveland.

Posted 10/16/2018

All Four League Schools Set For  Sectional Action Thursday Night

No. 1 seed Moeller, Elder and La Salle all posted victories Monday night on the statewide opening night of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Southwest Sectional Tournaments held at the sites of the highest seeded teams.  As a result, the three schools advance to second-round matches on Thursday night, while No. 2 seed St. Xavier will open postseason play that night by hosting Hamilton, a 4-2 winner in its opener against Middletown, at 7 p.m. at St. Xavier Stadium.  The Bombers had a first-round bye by virtue of the tournament draw.

Moeller (13-1-3), the Greater Catholic League South Division champion and No. 2 ranked team in the state, got a goal and two assists from junior center midfielder Parker Grinstead to defeat Winton Woods, 4-0, early Monday evening at the Gerry Faust Athletic Complex on Moeller’s Montgomery Road campus.  Jake Renneker scored the Crusaders’ first goal at 2:28 and, after Grinstead scored, Ben and Sam Hegge also found the net in the first half for Moeller – which advances to the second round to meet Western Hills at 5 p.m. Thursday at Moeller.  The goal was No. 11 this season for Ben Hegge. 

Elder (6-6-5) also was victorious in its sectional opener, posting a 5-0 win against Princeton at the Panther Athletic Complex in Price Hill.  The Panthers were led by three goals from senior midfielder Parker Niehaus, while Cam Jansing and Nick Hunter each added a goal.  Nathan Bill recorded two assists, while Drew Brown and Frankie Sabato combined to register six saves for the shutout.  Elder advances to meet No. 4 seed Turpin at 7 p.m. Thursday.  The Spartans enter the match with a 12-1-3 record, the lone loss coming to Loveland, 4-0, in the regular-season finale.

La Salle (6-9-2) had to hit the road for its first-round match, but the Lancers gave the GCL South a perfect 3-0 mark Monday by defeating Lebanon, 3-1, to move into the second round.  La Salle scored three first-half goals, including two from junior midfielder Kyle Daugherty and the other from sophomore forward Maxwell Waters.  The Lancers, like Elder, will travel and face a member of the Forest Hills Local School District and Eastern Cincinnati Conference.  La Salle will oppose Anderson, which finished the regular season with a 10-3-2 record, at 7 p.m. Thursday at the school’s Brown Stadium.  

St. Xavier (10-3-3), the only GCL South school that did not have a first-round match, will begin its postseason journey looking to win its fourth straight.  The Bombers are led by  senior forward Gino Geiser, who tied for the most goals scored in the GCL South during the regular season, with 10.  Senior center midfielders Matthew Sutton and Craig Wellens enter the sectional tournament each having scored eight goals.

Posted on 10/15/2018

No. 1 Moeller, Elder & La Salle Play Today; St. Xavier Later In Week

Three of the four Greater Catholic League South Division soccer teams begin their postseason journeys today, including top-ranked Moeller, while St. Xavier gets started in the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division I Southwest Sectional/District Tournaments later this week.  Moeller (12-1-3), ranked No. 2 in last week’s Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association (OSSCA)  DI poll, hosts Winton Woods at 5 p.m. at the Gerry Faust Athletic Complex on Moeller High School’s Montgomery Road campus.

Elder (5-6-5) also gets its tournament opener at home, hosting Princeton at 7 tonight at the Panther Athletic Complex.  La Salle (5-9-2) hits the road for its sectional opener, traveling to face Lebanon at 7 this evening.  That game will be played at Lebanon Junior High School.  St. Xavier (10-3-3), which has an opening-round bye by virtue of the sectional draw, awaits the winner of two Greater Miami Conference teams in Hamilton and Middletown that play tonight at Hamilton.  The second-round match is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at St. Xavier High School.

Moeller and St. Xavier enter postseason play with a combined 22-4-6 record.  Moeller came within one victory of posting a perfect regular season, suffering a 3-2 loss to Dublin Coffman last Saturday.  The Crusaders had not lost a regular-season match since falling at Louisville Trinity, 1-0, on September 22 last year, a stretch of 21 consecutive regular-season matches without a loss.  St. Xavier, winner of three straight, has lost two of its three matches to the state’s top-ranked teams in No. 1 St. Ignatius and Moeller.  The Bombers also tied Moeller, 1-1, in the regular season.  St. Xavier’s other loss was at Walnut Hills, 2-1.

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