By John Lachmann
ERLANGER, Ky. – Senior forward Tyrus Sciarra recorded a goal and an assist in a two-minute span as Ryle beat Covington Catholic, 4-1 in one of four Region 9 quarterfinals on Sunday that saw teams battle through a variety of weather conditions.
In the four matches, all played at St. Henry, teams had to battle 50-mile-per-hour wind gusts and rain which fell heavily enough to cause an extended delay when Boone County played Holy Cross.
Senior midfielder Dan Jensen added assists on the final two goals for the Raiders, who avenged a 1-0 loss to the Colonels in the teams’ regular-season meeting on Sept. 22.
Senior midfielder Connor Jordan took a pass from Sciarra and fired a low blast from the top of the box to gave Ryle a one-goal lead with 4:22 remaining in the opening half.
That goal killed the momentum for CovCath, which had dominated the first half to that point. The Colonels had four scoring chances in the 15 minutes prior to the Jordan goal.
“That was huge – that goal really helped,” Ryle coach Stephen Collins. “We had played a really good half defensively to keep (CovCath) off the board, having given them the wind. So to be able to put one in five minutes before the half was a huge jump, but then to get a second one right before half, that really gave us a lot of momentum going in and a lot of confidence.”
Sciarra headed a ball in off a free kick from senior defender Garrett Mead from the center circle with 2:39 left until halftime to extend the Raiders’ lead to two.
“Connor Jordan had a beautiful finish, and then the second one was just a good momentum setter going into the second half,” Sciarra said.
Ryle took its two-goal lead into halftime despite playing into heavy wind.
“(CovCath) won the toss but we were planning on going into the wind the first half anyway because we figured if we could hold our own we could dominate the second half,” Jordan said.
Said Collins: “The fact that we could play the first half with that wind and score two goals was pretty exciting.”
With CovCath fighting the wind in the second half, the Colonels were able to cut the lead to one when junior midfielder Adam Atkinson chipped in a shot off a free kick by senior midfielder Wheeler Blersch in the 48th minute.
Three-plus minutes later, senior midfielder Jake Siemer blasted a shot into the top corner off a corner kick from Jensen as Ryle regained its two-goal lead.
Jensen fired a shot in the 62nd minute that CovCath’s goalkeeper was able to deflect aside, but Raiders senior midfielder Alex Rich tapped in the rebound to make it 4-1.
Ryle will play Newport Central Catholic at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday in a regional semifinal.
HALFTIME: 2-0. GOALS: R—Jordan, Sciarra, Siemer, Rich. CC—Atkinson. RECORDS: Ryle 17-5-1, CovCath 14-7-2.
NEWPORT CENTRAL CATHOLIC 1, VILLA MADONNA 0, OT – Sophomore Jacob Hensley tapped in a pass from junior Matt Tolle 1:26 into the first overtime.
Senior Nathan Grosser stopped seven shots to earn the Thoroughbreds’ seventh shutout of the season and their third in a row.
NewCath, playing with the wind in the first half, forced Blue Lightning senior Andy Piccirillo to make seven saves before the break including a leaping grab off a header in the final seconds.
Villa Madonna had the wind at its back in the second half, when Grosser made five of his seven saves.
“In the first half we had the wind with us and I told our guys to shoot as much as possible,” NewCath coach Mike McDonald said. “We played pretty well, and then in overtime I told our guys if we won the flip we’d have to take the wind, try and get an early one and they stepped up and did it.”
Blue Lightning senior Marius VanMelle put three shots on net in a two-minute span midway through the half, forcing Grosser to dive to his left to deny a blast with 19:30 left and heading another ball that forced Grosser to sprawl out to keep the match scoreless a minute later.
But NewCath eventually gained the momentum, as Piccirillo had to make a kick save with 10 minutes remaining in regulation and he denied a high shot with a leaping save with under two minutes left.
The Thoroughbreds will play Ryle in a regional semifinal at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
HALFTIME: 0-0. GOAL: NCC—Hensley. SHUTOUT: Grosser (7 saves). RECORDS: NewCath 6-9-5, Villa Madonna 10-10-1.
BOONE COUNTY 4, HOLY CROSS 0 – The Rebels scored all four of their goals before the match was halted because of heavy rain late in the first half.
Junior midfielder Haris Skiljo fired a shot from near the Boone County bench on the sideline that sank just under the crossbar 4:43 into the match.
Skiljo fired a shot off the post and junior midfielder Evan O’Hara tapped in the rebound to make it 2-0 with 25:39 left in the first half.
Less than five minutes later, the Rebels extended the lead to three when senior midfielder Matt Melzer’s shot from the side of the net deflected off a defender.
Boone County capped off its scoring with 13:12 left until halftime when senior midfielder