Guardians dominate Bears, keep district final streak alive
In only the fourth year in program history the St. Michael the Archangel boys soccer team will play for its fourth district championship.
The Guardians, the top seed in the Class 3 District 14 tournament, rolled to a 7-0 victory over host William Chrisman Monday night on Norman James Field.
After playing in Class 2 the past three years and winning three straight titles, the Guardians (12-6) will face Van Horn in the title game on Wednesday in a showdown of state-ranked teams, according to the Missouri Soccer Coaches latest power poll. St. Michael is No. 14, while Van Horn is No. 6.
Senior Lawrence Roccaro and junior Diego Garcia each scored two goals for the Guardians in the first matchup ever against the Bears.
Senior goalkeeper Vincent Haggerty improved to 7-0 in district play and has allowed only one goal in his first seven district games.
“We take it game-by-game,” Haggerty said. “This week we had a really nice week of practice, we worked hard and we stayed focused. Today we executed and hopefully Wednesday we can do the same thing. It is exciting to be here (district finals) again, but we can’t take it for granted. I’m excited this is my last year, I’m a senior. I’m just ready to play.”
St. Michael and Chrisman (10-10) were scoreless through the first 19 minutes, but Keegan LeNeave then scored the only goal the Guardians needed. He outraced a defender and then sent a shot across the box to find the back of the net in the 20th minute.
“I think we're trying to force things early and we weren’t playing our style,” Guardians coach Rob Putthoff said. “We weren’t connecting passes and guys were getting a little frustrated. Once we settled down and got the first goal I think everyone took a deep breath, getting zoned in and focused.”
It wasn’t anything Chrisman coach Justin Schmidt hadn’t already seen on tape.
“I thought we had a solid game plan,” he said. “We watched film on how they played, and how they got the first goal is exactly what we told them. They always start on the backside on our defender and cut in front and play a nice through goal. That is how they got most of their goals. We were hoping to hang on a little longer and score on a counter, but things didn’t work out that way.”
Garcia’s first goal came in the 24th minute, coming at the end of a give-and-go between Charlie Putthoff and Josh Oberkrom, who sent a cross pass across the box that Garcia buried.
A deflection off a shot by Vincenti Nevshemal, a freshman forward, went back to Roccaro, who put the ball in the net in the 28th minute.
Up 3-0 at halftime, St. Michael scored three goals in the second half and then got an own goal as well from Chrisman.
Oberkrom scored in the 48th minute on a pass from Roccaro, while Garcia buried a penalty kick for his second goal in the 52nd minute. Roccaro’s second goal came in the 67th minute, with Nevshemal getting his second assist.
The final goal came in the 69th minute on an own goal as a Chrisman player tried to clear a ball that bounced off a teammate and rolled in.
Chrisman had limited chances against the Guardians, but had a few opportune ones. In the 68th minute, junior Ali Fataki was taken down in the goalie box. That set up a penalty kick, but freshman Adrian Cisneros’ kick sailed over the crossbar. In the 79th minute, junior Janmarco Garcia took a free kick from the 18-yard line but his shot went over the crossbar as well. In the final seconds, Garcia’s fired a shot at goal, which was stopped by Hudson Waller, who came into goal for the Guardians after the lead went to 7-0.
St. Michael prepares to face Van Horn for the second time this season at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Chrisman. The first was a 2-1 Guardians win in overtime on Sept. 11. That snapped a four-game losing streak against the Falcons.