Trinity overcame a late deficit against Manual and St. Xavier held off Kentucky Country Day Thursday to set up yet another playoff match between the rival schools in the seventh region finals Saturday.
The second-ranked Shamrocks (19-1-2) defeated the 17th-ranked Crimsons (12-4-1) on a goal by Drew Goetz in double overtime. The fifth-ranked Tigers then beat the 10th-ranked Bearcats via a first-half goal by Lucas Mudd and some outstanding play in goal by Clayton Allen.
The Shamrocks and the Crimsons played about as competitive a game as possible in regulation. For 68 minutes they found themselves in a scoreless duel. Trinity was getting all the shots, but Manual’s Andrew Hagan (seven saves) was stopping them every time.
The Crimsons finally broke through when Trevor Lankford scored on an assist from Dylan Barth with 11:52 remaining to put Manual in position for the tremendous upset.
But these Shamrocks are not shaken easily. Just 16 seconds out of a stoppage in play, they got the equalizer from Brooks Hoddinot with 5:39 remaining.
“It’s been our M.O. all year,” said head coach Dale Helfrich. “We’ve had a lot of games where we had to come from behind. Thankfully we have the players to do it. When they reset the clock at 5:55, I said to my assistant coach that it must be a good omen. Today was my wife and I’s five-year anniversary.”
Once the game went to overtime, the Shamrocks dominated play, even if it took them until the second extra period to get the decisive goal. That goal came with 2:07 remaining on a 15-foot shot off the foot of Goetz.
“It was a great ball from Cameron in the back division,” he said. “I stayed high like my coaches had told me to. I knew it was going to have to be a good kick, so I waited to get it on my right foot, my preferred foot, and just put it in the back of the net.”
Helfrich, knowing he’ll need a strong effort from his team to beat St. X a second time this season, lit into his team after the game.
“I thought we were a little sluggish getting our legs going and our motors running,” he said. “But (Manual) is a good team. Their players and our players are very familiar with each other and Andrew is a tremendous goalkeeper. Our guys persevered and we move on.”
In another extremely competitive game, the Tigers clawed their way to the win. With 16:37 remaining in the first half, Lucas Mudd’s shot ricocheted in off the right post for the only goal of the game, which was assisted by Trent Ennenbach. St. Xavier will now get a chance to beat a rival it hasn’t defeated since 2012.
The Shamrocks defeated the Tigers earlier this season (2-1) and twice last season, which included a regional semifinal win.