It had the potential to be a tight one with the season on the line.
The 32nd District boys soccer semifinal game between the host Simon Kenton Pioneers (8-8-4) and the Walton-Verona Bearcats (11-8-3) stayed that way for most of the first half. But the Pioneers scored twice toward the end of the half before pulling away in the second half and winning 5-1. The Pioneers move on to the title game Wednesday at 8 p.m. against the visiting Grant County Braves (11-5-1) at Chlorine B. Menefee Stadium in Independence.
Junior forward Michael Cawthron scored the first Simon Kenton goal. Minutes later, Simon Kenton senior midfielder Ayden Theobald assisted sophomore midfielder Erick Herrera‘s goal.
“We were feeling good at halftime,” said Jeremy Wolfe, Simon Kenton head coach. “It took us a while to get the first goal and the second goal. But we knew it wasn’t over because Walton is going to come out and keep fighting. They could have come out and got one early in the second half then you have a game. Our message at halftime is it was 0-0. Let’s go out and get one as soon as we can to try to finish them off. We did that.”
Simon Kenton senior forward CJ Neidenbach scored on a free kick with 33:43 left in the game then added a second one with 20:03 left in the game on a junior midfielder Draven Dean assist to put the Pioneers up 4-0. Neidenbach has nine goals this year.
“I think we just maintained our effort and we really picked up our chemistry,” Neidenbach said. “We worked great together. Our team loves our seniors so they did it for them. They didn’t want our season to end. It’s now or never so we have to pick it up or go home.”
The Bearcats averted the shutout with 12 minutes left when Tyler Wolfe scored.
Simon Kenton’s leading scorer in junior forward Dominick Dornbusch scored with 6:57 remaining to make the final score.
Seniors Arif Ceylan and Mateo Mains led the Bearcats in goals this year but the Simon Kenton defense limited their touches.
“It was really good,” Simon Kenton senior defender Nathan Wigton said. “The other middle backs and I were able to control the ball and work with our outside backs to not only contain on defense, but build from the back and pass. We always believe our home field is the best place to play.”
Walton-Verona graduates nine players overall. The Bearcats won an 8th Region All “A” crown and beat the Pioneers during the regular season for the first time since 2012.
“We’re going to lose the core of our middle. We’re going to lose the all-time leading scorer in Arif,” said Jeremy Riggs, Walton-Verona head coach. “It’s not going to be a rebuild. We have some young guys that are going to fill right in. We’ll be the same team if not better next year.”
Simon Kenton is seeking its second straight district championship. The Pioneers lost 1-0 at Grant County on Sept. 7.
37th District Semifinals
Campbell, Bishop Brossart Set for Rematch
The Campbell Co. Camels (9-8-2) edged the host Scott Eagles (7-12-2), 2-1 in the second semifinal game. They take on Bishop Brossart (11-5-2) in the championship game back at Scott on Wednesday at 6 p.m. Brossart took down Calvary Christian (1-17-1), 6-0 in the first semifinal game.
Junior Noah Rittinger scored both goals for the Camels and sophomore Austin Bush had an assist on one. Rittinger has 16 goals on the season.
“The boys trusted the plan and executed,” said Kyle Newman, Campbell County head coach. “We knew it would be a competitive game. It always is. But to be down 1-0 at half with the season on the line. Our young team showed maturity, came together and figured out ways to put the ball in the back of the net.”
Senior Carlos Marshall scored the lone Scott goal. Senior Sam Wynn had the assist. Marshall finished the season with 15 goals.
“Honestly keeping calm was a big part of it,” said Brycen Faulkner, Campbell County junior goalkeeper. “I think we played way better in the second half than we did in the first half. That’s kind of what the trend has been all year long. I think one of the biggest things we need for the postseason is to become a first half and second half team.”
Bishop Brossart has won two straight district tournament championships.
34th Semifinal at Dixie Heights
St. Henry 4, Villa Madonna 0.
The Crusaders (6-9) face Dixie Heights (14-2-3) in the title game at 6 p.m.
33rd Semifinal at Boone County
Ryle 3, Cooper 2 (Overtime)
The Raiders (5-11-2) may have struggled during the regular season but they put some things together to pull off the upset of the Jaguars (12-5-1).
Ryle will play for the district championship Wednesday back at Boone County against Conner (13-7-2) at 5:30 p.m.
“It was a full team effort,” said Brian Runyon, Ryle head coach. “The girls have been focused, locked in on this game for over a week now making sure they knew how they wanted to play the game. We knew that we needed to be on our best game. One thing we’ve done all year is work hard physically. But sometimes we struggled to work hard mentally. Every little extra effort that was needed whether it was tracking a runner or just maybe communicating to a teammate happened.”
Senior Ella Gregory scored twice for Ryle including the game-winning goal in the first part of the five-minute overtime. Her first goal gave the Raiders a 1-0 halftime lead.
“I haven’t scored all season. Outside mid isn’t usually the position I play in high school. I usually play defense,” Gregory said. “Keeping my composure to shoot the ball was definitely something that was important to me. When it first hit the back of the net, that was very shocking. After that, obviously we were all so happy. That was very exciting.”
Cooper came back to take the lead in the second half when sophomore midfielder Emily Green and junior striker Maleah Alexander scored. But the Raiders tied it in the final five minutes when junior Annie Davis scored.
Ryle and Conner will meet for the district championship for the third time in four years.
32nd District Tournament at Simon Kenton
Walton-Verona 6, Grant County 3
The Bearcats (15-4-1) play at Simon Kenton (11-4-4) in the title game at 6 p.m.
34th District Tournament at Ludlow
St. Henry 10, Ludlow 0
Dixie Heights 4, Villa Madonna 0
Title Game on Wednesday
Dixie Heights (10-7-3) vs. St. Henry (12-4-2), 8 p.m.
35th District Tournament at Beechwood
Notre Dame 10, Holmes 0
Beechwood 1, Holy Cross 0 (4-2 shootout)
Title Game on Wednesday
Notre Dame (14-3-2) at Beechwood (10-5-3), 7 p.m.
36th District Tournament at Highlands
Newport Central Catholic 11, Bellevue 0
Highlands 10, Dayton 0
Title Game on Wednesday
NewCath (7-10-1) at Highlands (11-6-3), 8 p.m.
Bishop Brossart 1, Holmes 0 (forfeit)
Ludlow 2 (25-9, 25-16), Gallatin County 0
St. Henry 2 (25-7, 25-9), Villa Madonna 0
Newport Central Catholic 3 (25-16, 25-17, 25-14), Walton-Verona 0
Scott 3 (25-12, 25-9, 25-10), Lloyd Memorial 0