Moeller Survives St. Xavier In Epic Regional Semi


Posted on 10/31/2019 at 12:34 p.m.

Elder Falls To Lakota East In Bid For All-GCL South Regional Final

For the third time this season, only a goal separated Moeller and St. Xavier – the top two teams, respectively, in the Greater Catholic League South Division soccer standings.  This time, though, not even  regulation, two overtimes and the first round of penalty kicks (with both teams making four-of-five shots) could determine the winner of Wednesday’s regional semifinal match between the rivals as part of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Boys’ Soccer Tournament at Lebanon Junior High School.  

Instead, it took a goal by Crusaders’ senior Connor Andrews to give Moeller a 5-4 edge in sudden-death, followed by a final save from senior keeper Cal Collins to give Moeller a 3-2 win and move coach Mike Welker’s team into the regional final – needing one more win for a return trip to the Division I Final Four.  Last season, Moeller advanced to the DI state final before allowing its lone postseason goal in a 1-0 OT setback to Medina.

Moeller (18-1-2), which extended its winning streak to 13 matches, advanced to meet Lakota East (15-3-3) in the final at 4 p.m. Saturday at Princeton High School.  East advanced with a 4-2 win over GCL South-member Elder last night at Monroe High School, preventing an all-GCL South regional final.  Elder had an early 2-0 lead, but the Thunderhawks rallied to score four unanswered goals by four different players and advance.  Elder (12-6-2) – which got goals from Connor Ammon and Cam Jansing – had ts three-match winning streak snapped in the process.

The regional champion advances to the state semifinals at 7 p.m. Wednesday, November 6 at a site to be announced.

Moeller (18-1-2), which has now won 13 straight matches, and St. Xavier (12-6-2), which had won seven of its last eight matches and 12 of 15 entering play Wednesday, staged three epic matches this season – the first two to determine the GCL South championship.  Moeller won the first meeting, 2-1, on September 17 at the Xaiver University Soccer Complex, and the Crusaders prevailed in the second meeting, too, a 1-0 triumph at St. Xavier on October 8 in the final  match of league play that gave Moeller its third consecutive GCL South title.  Moeller and St. Xavier entered that match with identical 4-1 records, with Elder handing Moeller its lone defeat to a Greater Cincinnati team back on September 10, 2-1.

In the regional semi, Moeller opened the scoring on a goal from senior Sam Hegge off a throw-in 13 minutes into the match.  With just under 20 minutes remaining in the first half, St. Xavier junior Jason Stiegerwald scored unassisted to tie the game, 1-1.  A few minutes later, junior Lawrence White scored for St. Xavier to give the Bombers a 2-1 lead at intermission.

It stayed that way until Andrews headed in a corner kick from senior Parker Grinstead, the school’s all-time assist leader, with 15:43 left in regulation.  This was just the second time all season that Moeller and Collins allowed more than one goal – the other coming in a 2-2 tie against Lakota East on August 29.  Ironically, the next opponent for Moeller is that same East team.

This has been an outstanding soccer season for the three GCL South members – who are a combined 42-13-6 against top-level competition.  St. Xavier closed its season by winning seven of its last nine matches, and 12 of the final 16 – the only defeats during that stretch to Moeller (three times) and Mason, the No. 2 seed.  The Bombers defeated previously unbeaten Dayton Carroll in the district final, 1-0.  Elder also had a solid season, opening with four straight wins and seven victories in its first eight matches.  The Panthers came alive in the postseason to win three in a row, including a 1-20 victory against Loveland in the district semifinals and a 3-1 triumph over Centerville in the final.