(click picture for larger version)
The Varsity Soccer Bombers headed back to Princeton HS on Saturday night for their OHSAA Div. I District Final game vs. Loveland on a cold evening. St. Xavier defeated Mason HS by a score of 1-0 on Tuesday at Princeton HS to advance to the District Finals. The Bombers beat LaSalle in the 2nd round by a score of 2-1 at home after a bye in the 1st round. St. Xavier was voted as the number 5 seed in the southwest district while Loveland was voted the number 10 seed. The Tigers took down Middletown (2-0), Turpin (2-1 in SO), and Fairfield (3-0) to get to the District Final game.
The Bombers and Tigers had played regularly in the regular season in the past but did not play during the 2017 regular season. St. Xavier finished the regular season with an 8-4-4 overall record and a 3-2-1 record in the GCL. Loveland finished with a 9-6-1 overall record and a 4-3-0 record in the ECC.
The game started in a back and forth fashion with neither team able to muster any good chances early. With 26 minutes left in the 1st half, the Bombers took a 1-0 lead when junior Matthew Sutton made a cross to classmate Gino Geiser who found the back of the net. The Tigers kept the pressure on as they scored an equalizer with just 7 minutes left in the opening half to make it a 1-1 game. The Bombers responded quickly as the action picked up at the end of the half. Senior Nathan Neal played a ball over the top to classmate Will Watkins who found the back of the net to put St. Xavier ahead 2-1 just before the half.
The Bombers took the 2-1 lead to the second half and held it until Loveland came up with another equalizer with 22 minutes left in the game to make it 2-2. Both teams created a couple of chances but nothing that would lead to the go ahead goal until 11 minutes left. Junior Luke Rockwood took a throw in deep in Loveland's defensive half and launched it inside the box where Neal was able to get his head on the ball and it found the back of the net off the deflection to put St. Xavier ahead 3-2. The defense and senior GK Lucas Marshall held the Tigers scoreless the rest of the way to seal the 3-2 win.
With the win, the Bombers claim the program's 18th OHSAA Div. I District Title and first since 2014. They advance to the Regional Semi-Finals where they will face #2 seeded Anderson HS on Wednesday, November 1 at 7:00 pm at Monroe High School. St. Xavier and the Redskins met early in the regular season on August 22 at Anderson where the Redskins won 2-1. Anderson finished the regular season 15-1-0 overall and a perfect 7-0-0 in the ECC.