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For the better part of the 2012 season, South Oldham boys' soccer team just seemed to find themselves in the right places at the right times. As a result, a team that started the season hobbled by injuries, reeled off an impressive run en route to both a 29th district regular season and tournament championship and a unmatched march through 8th Region tournament play. But like all good things, it came to an end Tuesday night with a 3-0 loss to No. 1 St. Xavier in the state tournament opener.
The normally stout Dragons didn't help themselves much in the early going, stumbling out of the gates in the opening minutes. That came to a head just five minutes in as the Tigers slipped through a hole in the South Oldham defense to record the games' first goal.
"We came out and one of our goals was to make sure that we weathered the storm in the first 10 minutes and they got that first goal and caught us off guard," coach Kenny Burke said. "There were two people we made sure we marked and (Kaelon Fox) got open and got one breath of fresh air the entire game. That was the one clean look he had and he made us pay and that's what good teams do."
From there, South settled in and play toe to toe with the state's top team but the damage had been done and they entered the half down 1-0.
That would carry over after the break as St. X tacked on another goal just 10 minutes into the second half off a corner kick to increase their lead to 2-0.
"I was proud of our effort coming back even in the second half," Burke said. "When we found possession, we were dangerous and they were chasing. When we just kind of started playing the ball too deep, too direct, it was easy for them to defend. That's when we kind of got strung out as we pushed forward to get more guys up because we had to get a goal. That was easier for St. X to play in to. Had they not had that one goal lead, that's a total game-changer."
The Dragons refused to go away though, fighting tooth and nail the next 16 minutes but the Tigers' depth proved to be much to overcome as they added another at 14:00 to put the game away.
Still, despite the loss, Burke said this group has been very special to coach.
"You can't put a price tag on what these seniors have done," he said. "They've started something special here and they've started a mentality that the team start here. Someone asked me before the game who is our big studs and we don't know. And we don't care. We just keep playing and I think that kind of mentality will serve this team better in the future. If we're so fortunate to win (a state championship) we'll do it for those seniors right here that started it."