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Dragon soccer faces St. X in state tournament

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By Sam Draut

After winning its first regional title since 2015, South Oldham boys soccer faces Saint Xavier of Louisville (St. X) in the first round of the state tournament Tuesday Oct. 23 at 7 p.m.

The Tigers (22-2-1) will host South Oldham (8-10-3) for the second time this fall after the Dragons defeated Oldham County in the Eighth Region final last week.

The Regional Final

South Oldham sealed a spot in the state tournament with a 1-0 victory over Oldham County last week. Tom Brown scored the go-ahead goal midway through the second half to lift the Dragons’ to the regional title.

After defeating Oldham County 3-0 in the regular season, the Dragons lost to the Colonels in the District 29 final Oct. 11. Senior Josh Weller said seeing Oldham County hoist the district title trophy gave the team extra fire in the regional final.

“We had to calm down and start moving the ball,” Weller said. “We couldn’t get sucked into their style, they like to kick a lot of long balls and just run, get it up to their athletic guys. We had to counter that by sitting back and relaxing by moving the ball.”

The Dragons defeated Oldham County 6-0 in the regional final in 2015, but the 10-member senior class suffered through two difficult seasons that ended in the district semi-finals and a combined record of 12-27-3.

South Oldham coach John Cantrell said it was special for the seniors to return to the state tournament after getting a taste of it their freshmen year.

“We did it our freshmen year watching those older guys,” senior captain Spencer Laws said. “We had that feeling at the beginning, then going through the past two years, we wanted to get back to where we were our freshmen year. It was really a satisfying feeling.”

The Rematch

St. X defeated South Oldham 2-0 Aug. 23 as Case Cox scored twice for the host Tigers.

The Dragons allowed both goals on set pieces in the first meeting. Cantrell said his team must stay disciplined defensively and take advantage of opportunities when available.

“We have to be patient,” Cantrell said. “They are a team that is probably going to have a majority of the possession, but when we get the ball, we have to be good at keeping it and going forward.”

Facing a St. X team that averages 4.8 goals per game, Laws thinks the defense must stay focused the entire match.

“Anytime you take a minute off, or take a second off, they are going to be threatening and can put a goal away,” Laws said.

What can Brown do for you?

The Dragons’ received a boost with the reemergence of midfielder Tom Brown.

Brown, a senior, played in 23 games as a freshman before opting to focus solely on his club team as a sophomore and junior. Cantrell included Brown on the postseason roster and he made his first appearance in the district final against Oldham County.

“We had a feeling that he was going to come back,” Laws said. “He told us he wanted to play.”

After playing together in a 2-0 loss to Oldham County in the district final, Weller said Brown and the team started to gel in the regional quarterfinals against Collins.

“He got used to our style,” Weller said. “Tom is everywhere. He is sharp on the ball and he never loses it. He is someone that can keep possession and get it for you.”

Brown scored South Oldham’s only goal in the 1-0 victory over Oldham County in the regional final.