By John Lachmann
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Last season, Louisville St. Xavier ended Northern Kentucky’s bid for an elusive boys’ soccer state championship by beating Ryle in the title match.
On Thursday, the Tigers again ensured this area will not have a winner in the state tournament.
St. Xavier recorded its 10th straight shutout with a 2-0 win over Boone County in a KHSAA semifinal. The defending state champions have outscored their eight postseason opponents, 32-0 this season.
“(St. Xavier) is skilled at every position,” Boone County coach Nathan Browning said. “As soon as we got the ball they were right on us – we didn’t have any space to work with, and our guys are used to having a little space to work with.”
Boone County senior goalkeeper Zach Mimms made two saves in the first 25 minutes, including a clean grab off of a rip from the top of the box.
But St. Xavier senior midfielder Ryan Sullivan slid a pass to senior striker Adam Kirsch, who deposited it in the net with 12:44 remaining in the first half to make it 1-0.
Boone County stepped up its attack after that goal, as senior midfielder Matt Melzer ripped a shot that was stopped by senior goalie Zachary Roehrig 90 seconds before halftime.
“I was still confident in us going into halftime,” Melzer said. “We were only down 1-0 – we were down 1-0 in the quarterfinals and we came back – so I still had confidence in us. But we just couldn’t do it today.”
The Rebels dictated play early in the second half with a pair of shots that were saved in the first four minutes.
But Kirsch struck again in the 52nd minute when his blast from 35 yards out dipped just under the crossbar.
“I thought we did a pretty good job against them,” Browning said. “They’re a tough team. I thought that second goal that they got was unfortunate, so I see that as a 1-0 game pretty much.”
Roehring finished with three saves, and he did not have to turn any shots aside the final 36 minutes.
St. Xavier is unbeaten in its last 54 matches, going 52-0-2 in that span, and the Tigers have won all but four of their matches this season by multiple goals.
St. Xavier has won 11 state titles in the 40 years boys’ soccer has been sanctioned, including four in the last five years and nine since 1994.
Melzer and senior defender Evan Valentine were named to the all-state tournament team for the Rebels, who were riding an 18-match unbeaten streak (15-0-3).
This was the first-ever trip to the state semifinals for Boone County, and prior to this season the Rebels had not even reached the regional tournament since 2003.
“I couldn’t be prouder of these guys – they worked their butts off all season and I’m real proud of them,” Browning said. “I’m extremely happy for them and what they accomplished this year.”
HALFTIME: 1-0. GOALS: SX—Kirsch 2. SHUTOUT: Roehrig (3 saves). RECORDS: St. Xavier 26-0-2, Boone County 20-4-3.
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