|Highlands Takes on Holy Cross in Region Semifinals|
|PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. The Highlands Bluebirds boys soccer team shut out Ryle, 5-0 to move on to the region semifinals Thursday at Dixie Heights.|
The Bluebirds put away the Ryle Raiders (11-8-3) with four goals in the second half for a 5-0 9th Region Quarterfinal win at Tower Park on Tuesday. The defending region champion Bluebirds moved on to the semifinals for the fourth straight season.
"We were up 1-0 at halftime," said Chad Niedert, Highlands Head Coach. "We knew at halftime that Ryle was still pretty much in the game. We played a good first 40 minutes before we picked up a great goal off a free kick. Alexander Foubert added a goal. Once Porter (Hedenberg) scored that third goal, the floodgates kind of opened up. Every bit of momentum was going our way. I think at that point, Ryle kind of tossed in the towel. We were still ready to play so we got another two."
Highlands takes on the 35th District champion Covington Holy Cross (12-8-3) in the region semifinals Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Dixie Heights. The runner-up teams from the 35th and 36th districts in Covington Catholic and Newport Central Catholic face off in the second game. The region championship is 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Highlands put up 23 shots including nine on goal and limited the Raiders to five shots on goal. Senior goalkeeper Nick Fischer stopped all five for the Bluebirds. This marked the 10th shutout this year for the Bluebirds.
"Every time they'd switch the field, we were right there," said Elijah Stevie, Highlands senior. "I think our offense played great."
Senior Porter Hedenberg led Highlands with two goals. He has eight on the season.
Senior Alexander Foubert, junior Brayden Gillman and junior Ben Fischer had the other goals. Senior Ford Orem had an assist. Gillman has six goals this year with Foubert scoring five and Ben Fischer three. Orem has five assists this year.
The Bluebirds had lost their previous two games to Ryle in region tournament play. That included a 3-1 defeat in the region championship two years ago.