Highlands to Host State Quarterfinal Game
|PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. The Highlands Bluebirds boys soccer team knocked off Danville, 6-3 on Tuesday to move on to the state quarterfinals.|
The 9th Region champion Highlands Bluebirds boys soccer team (17-5-4 overall) ventured south for a battle against an unfamiliar opponent in the 12th Region champion Danville Admirals (17-5-1) at Bate Middle School. The teams got into a shoot-out in the first half, but the Bluebirds pulled away in the second half for a 6-3 victory in the Semi-State 5 contest to advance to the state quarterfinals.
"Danville hadn't been shut out all year so our conversation at the beginning of the game was that, 'Look. We're probably going to give up goals," said Chad Niedert, Highlands Head Coach. "They have a real powerful guy up top. The field is tiny. We just need to score more than them and that's exactly what we did."
Highlands earned one last home game at Tower Park with the victory against a familiar opponent. The 11th Region champion Lexington Henry Clay Blue Devils (22-1-3) come to town after beating 10th Region champ Calvary Christian at Scott, 3-0 on Tuesday. The game will take place Saturday at 7 p.m.
The Bluebirds and Blue Devils tied 1-1 at Tower Park on Sept. 7. Henry Clay also tied Lexington rivals Tates Creek and Dunbar. The lone loss came 2-1 to Chicago (Illinois) St. Patrick on Sept. 27 in the River Region Rumble at McCracken County.
Senior Caymon Stevie led Highlands with a hat trick of three goals and an assist for seven points. He has a team-high 13 goals and five assists on the season for 31 points.
Highlands ended up takingt 26 shots with 10 on goal compared to 21 shots with nine on goal for the Admirals. Senior goalkeeper Nick Fischer made six saves for the Bluebirds.
Junior Max Farris scored his 12th goal of the year and senior George Gates added his third. Senior Alexander Foubert also had his third assist on the season.
"We were making good runs up top and were able to move the ball through the three levels starting at defense moving up to the midfield then playing good through balls," Gates said. "We had good movement from both of our strikers. We were able to get some good goals and some good finishes off good chances."
The Bluebirds received some contributions from an unlikely hero in freshman Colin Pieper. Pieper had his first varsity goal and assist in the victory. He moved up to varsity after the junior varsity season ended.
"It definitely wasn't a game I thought I was going to score in so that's huge," Pieper said. "In my first state game, I didn't expect to play very many minutes. The fact that I got to go in and score is crazy."
Even though Highlands finished state runner-up last year, the Bluebirds graduated 16 seniors from that team so a number of players saw their first action in the state tournament. That included sophomore Cole Lorenzen.
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Niedert said Danville senior defender Ethan Redmond turned out to be as good as advertised. He came into the game leading the Admirals with 29 goals and 13 assists and put one in against the Bluebirds.
"We knew going into the game that he was there guy and he was," Niedert said. "But between (senior) Elijah Stevie, (junior) Hank Cook and Cole Lorenzen in particular. We did a good job of shutting him down enough to get the job done."
Senior midfielder Seth Brunner and junior Remilson Forlevil had the other goals for Danville. Senior midfielder Gabe Cisneros and senior Briar Sanders had assists.
It turned out to be a physical game. Danville had two yellow cards and Highlands drew one.