CARROLLTON – The Trinity Shamrocks rolled into the boys soccer state quarterfinals Monday night.
Trinity trounced South Oldham 5-1 in a first-round State Tournament game at Carroll County High School’s Panther Field.
The Shamrocks, ranked No. 2 in the Maher Rankings, scored three goals in a seven-minute stretch of the first half to take control against the fourth-ranked Dragons.
“We’ve got a good group of guys and they do a good job of stretching the field,” Trinity coach Dale Helfrich said. “It’s nice to play on a good wide field (like this one), and tonight we were able to throw on a lot of numbers and got some good goals from it early.”
The victory moves Trinity (21-1-2) into the state quarterfinals for the third consecutive year. The Shamrocks will next play No. 5 Covington Catholic (21-2-2), a 3-2 winner over No. 13 Montgomery County on Monday night, at 6 p.m. Saturday night in the state quarterfinals at Henry Clay. Trinity and the Colonels tied 1-1 at Covington back on Aug. 22.
Monday night marked the second meeting of the season between the Shamrocks and South Oldham. Trinity won the first matchup 2-0 Sept. 26 in the third-place game of Male’s Bulldog Cup.
“This time of year everybody’s coming out with more intensity, and I think since it was for a third-place game (the first time) we came out not as intense as we could have,” Shamrocks junior defender Cameron Smith said. “We had to come out a lot harder and step up a lot tougher (this time), and we did that and we were able to put more away than the first time we played them.”
Senior standout Greg Fischer put Trinity ahead to stay in the 23rd minute when he ripped a right-footer into the upper right-hand corner of the net from about 20 yards out.
“There was a defender in front of me and I let the ball roll across my body because I was thinking about shooting with left foot,” explained Fischer, a natural left-footer, ”but he got there so, just quick thinking, I cut it back with my left foot onto my right foot and just shot it, and it went in.”
The Shamrocks quickly added to their lead. Smith volleyed in a corner kick from Fischer in the 28th minute, then headed in another corner from Fischer two minutes after that to make it 3-0.
That was too big of a hole for South Oldham (15-7-2), which was coming off its second straight Eighth Region championship.
“We came out nervous,” first-year Dragons coach Denis Beall said. “Although we were in this situation last year, a lot of these guys didn’t play in the state tournament last year. I think we just had some guys who just came out nervous and got away from some of the things we’ve done to be successful this year.
“We made some silly mistakes and gave them extra opportunities on set pieces, where they’re so good. We talked about it (and said it) was just one of those things we couldn’t do. We couldn’t give them extra chances, and we did and they burned us.”
South Oldham trimmed Trinity’s lead to 3-1 on Ryan Dodson’s rip in the 33rd minute, but Max Higgins answered from the Shamrocks just 1:16 before halftime.
Trinity tacked on another goal, this one from Brooks Hoddinot, early in the second half to put the Dragons away.
“I think our possession beat them tonight,” Smith said. “We were able to pass through them and break them down and create holes and we were able to get it out wide and cross it in.”
Trinity now moves on to Lexington, where it lost in last year’s state quarterfinals.
“It’s going to be a tough one,” Helfrich said. “We’ve seen Covington Catholic, we played them to a 1-1 tie early in the season, but we look forward to all of our games, whether they’re ranked first, second, third, fifth in the state, who cares. It’s been great to have the gauntlet that we’ve had to run. It keeps our guys sharp and honest, and it keeps pushing them to get better and tonight I think they showed what we’re on to.”