Wildcat Soccer wins 38th District Championship
While the focus of the season has been on the record-breaking offense of Senior Conner Harper, it was the Wildcat's defense that has shut down opponents and had the Wildcats claiming their fourth 38th District championship with 1-0 victories over Mason County in the first round and Harrison County in the championship game. With the championship, they will host the 10th Region Tournament starting on Tuesday, October 16 with games played on Thursday and championship game on Saturday. All on Veterans Field at Sharp Middle School.
"I can't commend them enough," Coach Aaron Harper said about his defense that has not allowed a goal in 260 minutes of game play. The Wildcats graduated most of their defense last season.
"It's one area that I knew we would struggle going into this year. It's basically a brand new back four and seeing these guys gel together at the end of this year when it really matters has benefitted us greatly," said Coach Harper. Jacob Cordray and Jimmy O'Hara hold down the centerback positions while Tyler Volz out on the left and Ethan Courts out on the right.
While the team had spurts of excellent defense during the season, four goals in the last six games spanning 480 minutes and recorded four shutouts during that span.
Cordray chalked it up to communication and having fun for the reason the defense has gelled. "We are not arguing and just playing soccer," he added.
Both Cordray and O'Hara were stars on offense last season and had to make the transition to defense this year.
"At first I really didn't like it too much," said O'Hara. "But, I just want to do what is best for the team and that's how I thought we would win districts."
A thought that turned out to be prophetic as him and his fellow seniors won their fourth district title.
Goalie Cody Sullivan has benefitted from the stellar defensive play in front of him. "I'm glad we have locked in down at the end of the season when we needed to," he said before adding that they have kept the other teams main players under control.
Sullivan in one of the most experienced goalies in Wildcat history as he started in goal his freshmen year when the four-year run of district titles began. He has a good handle on how to win in post season play. "We are not letting anyone through. No one-on-one's and that's hurt us all year."
While the defense was locking down the big scorers from Mason County and Harrison County, the Wildcats were getting enough offense to win both games. Senior Tony Dietrich assisted in both goals scored in district play. On Monday versus Mason County, he dribbled the ball to the corner crossed it in front of the goal where Cody Mains waited to knock it in.
"I like to whack it across the six for someone to finish," said Dietrich about a play he brought from club play to his high school team.
Against Harrison County, the winning goal came off a corner kick that Conner Harper was able to head in.
The header that found the back of the net allowed Conner to tie his brother, Aven, for most goals in a season. "Me and Tony on corner kicks, we just kinda look at each other and I point to where I want the ball and it puts it right there every time," he said. "On this one, I knew I could outjump the defender, so I said put it right here and Tony placed it right on my head."
The defense made both goals stand up for the victory.
The draw for the 10th Region tournament will be on Friday, October 12 with games played on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. With only three districts in the region, the three district runner-up teams and one district champion will play on Tuesday night. The other two district championship teams will be waiting the winners in the semi-finals on Thursday ngiht with the championship game being on Saturday evening. Game times will be determined at the regional draw.
Check the Tuesday, October 16 edition of Falmouth Outlook for a story on the senior class and their fourth district title in four years as well as game times and matchups for each night of the 10th Region Tournament.