|Bluebirds Earned 12th Consecutive Win over Thoroughbreds|
|PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands junior midfielder/forward Ashton Foley makes a move in the 7-0 win at Newport Central Catholic on Tuesday.|
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The season may have turned the page to the postseason.
But it helped out the Highlands Bluebirds boys soccer team (17-4-1 overall) carried the momentum from the huge 5-2 win Saturday at Tower Park to the 36th District championship game against the Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds (9-11-1) at Don Velten Field at Morsher Park in Silver Grove on Tuesday. They started strong and carried it through in a 7-0 victory.
The win marks the sixth consecutive 36th District championship for the Bluebirds and 12th straight win over the district rivals. Highlands is 10-0 against NewCath since Chad Niedert took over as head coach. The Bluebirds led 4-0 at halftime.
"If you take the second half against Dunbar and the first half (Tuesday), that's two four-goal halves in a row," Niedert said. "We're showing a lot of strength going forward. I think teams are starting to defend us a certain way. But when you have more than one trick, we've been able to make use of everybody on the field. We've done a lot better at finishing our opportunities and not taking those opportunities for granted."
Highlands had 22 shots including 16 on goal to 15 shots with just seven on goal for NewCath. Junior goalkeeper Ryan Mullen made seven saves for the Thoroughbreds and sophomore Jack Wilson made five for the Bluebirds.
The quickness advantage showed all over the field, especially in the midfield. The Bluebirds committed just seven fouls to 11 for the Thoroughbreds and had 11 corner kicks to one for NewCath. Highlands did have six offsides calls, but no yellow cards. The Thoroughbreds drew one yellow card.
"It was tough on the field. But we played through it," said Brady Stiles, Highlands junior defender/midfielder. "I think we have a really connected midfield that plays well together."
Senior forward/midfielder Jordan Frisk led the Bluebirds with two goals and an assist for five points. Frisk has 17 goals and a team-high 11 assists for 45 points. Frisk earned tournament most valuable player honors.
The Bluebirds scored twice in the game's first 10 minutes to go up 2-0. Junior midfielder Caden Schroeder found Frisk on a cross in the middle. The NewCath defender tried to clear it. But it deflected into the upper half of the net for the score just four minutes, 15 seconds into the game. Schroeder has six assists this year.
The second score came from the team's top goal-scorer in senior forward Colin Pieper with 30:50 left in the first half. Frisk drew a penalty in the box and Pieper converted it. Pieper scored his second goal with 33:52 left in the game off a NewCath turnover in the box to put Highlands up 5-0. Pieper has 20 goals on the season.
Sophomore forward Chad Gesenhues scored twice in the second half to build on the Highlands lead. Gesenhues has nine goals this year. The first one came with 25:43 left in the half on a feed from junior midfielder Peyton Helminiak and the second came on a senior defender/midfielder Joel Kendall corner kick with 14:14 left. Those marked the fifth and eighth assists for Helminiak and Kendall respectively. Gesenhues and Pieper earned all-tournament honors.
"It was very crucial," Gesenhues said. "Usually when we start off fast, we end up doing better overall. We just wanted to keep going. We didn't want to let up because we know last time (in a 4-2 win over NewCath on Sept. 14 at Velten Field) we started off slow and they got the two-goal lead at first."
Frisk recorded his second goal with 30:18 left in the game. The final Highlands goal came with 6:38 left in the game when sophomore forward Tyler Whitney hit a through ball to senior defender/midfielder Sam Jones. That marked the second goal for Jones and first goal for Whitney.
NewCath's best chance to score came with 22 minutes left in the game. The shot hit the right post and deflected away before Highlands cleared it.
Highlands earned one final home game at Tower Park in the 9th Region quarterfinals with the win. The Bluebirds will take on a runner-up from the 33rd, 34th or 35th District.