We’ve all heard those old, quaint sport expressions.
Defense wins championships.
The best defense is a good offense.
Keeping your offense on the field keeps the other team’s on the bench.
Washington Catholic had not experienced a lot of boys soccer tournament success in years past. The Cardinals would often find themselves facing larger schools, leaving them with big challenges.
But the IHSAA picked a good time for class soccer. No longer faced with larger schools, the Cardinals won their first soccer sectional title last fall.
But that team was loaded with experienced defenders that graduated, although still leaving Washington Catholic with a bevy of scorers.
Coach Wayne Neace started with the Cardinal program seven years ago at the junior high level. His present seniors were in the sixth grade when he started.
Those seniors have advanced with the coach, and the reward could be a potential third consecutive Blue Chip Conference championship with a second sectional title a possibility.
But for that to happen, the 9-0-1 Cardinals had to find a new defense, and that’s where Neace is starting to really like what he sees.
Seniors TJ Hill and Nick Boyd have stepped into the gap in the early going.
Boyd saved a goal against Forest Park with a bicycle kick in front of goalkeeper Steven Holland after Holland had made an original diving save.
Neace noted Hill is in a position to be the backbone of the team, playing in the middle.
Sophomores Brandon Strange and Brian Brown have joined with freshman Zach Taylor. Neace said all three have come a long way through the season.
That defense has grown enough that Neace let the defenders defend alone in the second half Tuesday at Forest Park.
“We played a little bit defensively the first half just to weather the storm,” Neace said. “We then turned the forwards loose in the second half. We look at Forest Park as a major competitor at the sectional. We hope that to go in there and win will give us a boost the next time around.”
The result was a 5-0 win against the Rangers at Ferdinand. It was a win that helped the defense of the Class A No. 8 Cardinals respond in a way that had been expecting.
“I think it was the first complete game the boys have put together this year,” Neace said. “It’s what we’ve been trying to preach to them about playing every minute in every game. We were playing teams that we could have scored a lot of goals on, but we often played just well enough to win.”
The Cardinal offense is certainly potent. Colton Reed scored four goals Tuesday to give him 24. That’s a new school season record.
Classmate Christian Neace, the coach’s son, is closing in on his own single season assist mark with 18.
Senior Brantley Smith has shown his wares, as have veterans junior Brody Wilson and sophomore Blaine Fuhs.
Neace liked Tuesday’s performance not because it was against a sectional opponent. He liked the level of intensity.
“That’s what we need to keep the rest of the way,” Neace said. “It seems like it’s starting to come together. I haven’t liked the idea that sometimes we just played a bit better than the other team. If we can bring the level of intensity that we had Tuesday, we may not know what the limit is.”
Washington Catholic plays the first of its final six matches today when the Cardinals welcome conference opponent Vincennes Rivet. Blue Chip games with Wood Memorial and North Knox are still on the slate.
Then it’s time to defend that first sectional title.
“We’ve felt all during the season that we would play this way,” Neace said. “We were very good last year at taking pressure off the defense by holding the ball in our own third. We’re now getting back to that. Our defense is better, and that is making our offense better.”
We’ve all heard those old, quaint sport expressions.
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Wagler, Stoll pace Vikings
Brandon Wagler and Myron Stoll each hit three-run home runs as Barr-Reeve defeated Eastern Greene, 15-3, in six innings Monday.
WHS camp is Monday
The Washington Hatchet's Summer Tennis Camp begins Monday at the Lena Dunn Elementary School courts.
Boys and girls entering grades three through eight this coming school year wishing to participate may register when the camp begins at 9 a.m. The camp continues each day until 10:30 a.m. through Thursday.
Each player should bring a racket (one can be provided), a towel and a water bottle.
The cost of the camp is $25 per person. Checks should be made to WHS Boys Tennis.
Washington Catholic High School is seeking coaches for the fall season.
Coaching positions open include: varsity and junior varsity volleyball; junior high volleyball, and junior high boys soccer.
Persons interested in these positions should contact athletic director John Howell at 812-254-2050, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The road to a championship almost always involves overcoming obstacles and a little bit of adversity.
All good things come to an end for Washington
All good things come to an end.
Heritage Hills (21-6) defeated Washington (14-9), 5-0, in the first round of the Class 3A Sectional Monday behind a dominant pitching performance from junior Kaitlin Kralj.
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