Irish put on a show in state soccer semifinals

Irish put on a show in state soccer semifinals

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Irish put on a show in state soccer semifinals

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BLUE SPRINGS

Tom Guinn has seen some skillful goals in his two seasons as the Catholic boys’ soccer coach.

But even Guinn was impressed by two of the tallies during an early three-goal flurry Friday, which allowed his Irish to take control of an eventual 4-1 Class 1 semifinal victory over Bayless at Blue Springs South High School.

Guinn gushed about goals from Reilly Harbach and Ryan Randell. Harbach opened the scoring with a superb individual effort and hard shot.

After Tommy Giovanni scored off a Harbach corner kick, Catholic made it 3-0 when Mitch Moncada made a long run, setting up Randell for the one-time goal.

“Those were two of the best goals we scored all season,” Guinn said. “Reilly beats his man, takes an extra touch, and just pings it into the side netting. It was a phenomenal goal.

“And then Mitch just tracks a guy down, he probably makes a 70-yard run and in 3 seconds, tracks the guy down and beats him. Then he sends a perfect ball into the box and then Ryan Randell finishes with a one-time goal – which isn’t an easy thing to do.”

The Irish (26-4) will play Southern Boone at 2 p.m. today with hopes of securing a second straight state championship. It’s the fourth straight state final for Catholic.

“Being back here again helps us quite a bit because this environment can be a little daunting,” Guinn said. “With the huge crowds, a lot of times in soccer, we don’t get that.”

Last year’s Catholic title was the first in southwest Missouri boys’ soccer history. This year — with Catholic and Carthage, playing in today’s noon Class 2 final — there’s a chance the region could double that total.

The Irish topped Southern Boone 3-0 in last season’s quarterfinal.

Friday’s opening trio of goals came in a span of 5 minutes, 30 seconds. In the 17th minute, Catholic led 3-0.

“We had to get that early goal, because we had been told the early goal would lead to more goals and then we could shut them down in the end,” Giovanni said. “That’s what we’ve tried to do. But we’ve just got to keep hammering through.”

Bayless (20-8) scored in the 41st minute, but Moncada responded with a header off a corner kick. The goal was assisted by Giovanni.

Giovanni, a sophomore, said the senior leaders have dictated an aura of confidence around the team, and that today’s approach would be no different.

“It is different than other games, but we’ve just got to play the same game we’ve been playing all season,” Giovanni said.

Added Guinn: “I think we carry a level of confidence that’s appropriate. Not overconfident, but confident enough to do what we need to do.”

The loss snapped a 16-game winning streak for Bayless, which opened the season 4-7, and made its first state appearance.

“We knew that if you give them a little room, they could knock it around,” Bayless coach David Pozzo said. “We were just a little flat. We were kind of worried the kids would come out and be a little tentative not trying to give (a goal) up, and it almost backfires on you, when you’re not trying to give it up instead of being full steam ahead.”

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