Tyus Groos wasn’t around the last time Pacelli and Aquinas met in the WIAA playoffs.
Veterans such as Luke Yenter and Colin Jamison only have to reach into the memory banks to last season when the Blugolds ended Pacelli’s season in the sectional semifinals.
Absent from the soccer field his first three years at Pacelli, the senior striker made a huge difference in helping the Cardinals earn a more satisfying result.
Groos scored a second-half hat trick and the unbeaten Cardinals recovered from a stunning start Thursday night to record a 4-1 win over Aquinas in a Division 4 regional final at Scaffidi Field.
Pacelli (23-0-0) will host Mid-State Soccer League rival Columbus Catholic in a sectional semifinal at 7 p.m. Thursday.
“We’ve definitely been talking about that. They knocked us out (last season) and we wanted to get revenge,” said Gross, who entered the game sixth in the state with 32 goals.
“It was really all about the midfielders and even defenders giving me some great through balls.”
With a scouting report skewed heavily toward not letting the speedy forward beat them, the Blugolds were willing to do whatever it took to try and stop him.
At times that meant surrounding Groos with two, three or four players. It proved effective for a half.
“Every time he touches the ball he’s dangerous and a threat to score,” Aquinas coach Lucas Eagon said. “We executed out plan, but he’s really good.”
Groos settled a long pass from Trevor Glodowski, dribbled around two Blugold defenders and keeper Noah Snyder to score into an open net at 61 minutes, 24 seconds to break a 1-1 tie.
Less than 5 minutes later he jumped on a loose ball and tucked it home, before completing his natural hat trick — all coming in one half — by turning on his after-jets to get behind the Aquinas defense and score off his own rebound.
A tight game turned into a comfortable lead in all in a matter of 13:03.
“What can you say about Tyus? It amazes me every day that he hasn’t played soccer for three years and is doing what he’s doing,” Pacelli coach Jarrod Schlichter said.
“We want to make it to state and we know this team is the one that can do it, but it depends on the kids.”
Everyone associated with the Cardinals was surprised after the Blugolds’ Christian von Weiss found the back of the net just 41 seconds into the match.
Instead of going into panic mode, Pacelli quickly regrouped and got back to even less than a minute later. Luke Yenter took a drop pass from Colin Jamison that he blasted through the hands of Snyder.
Groos took over from there.
“This was big for us. They played a lot of Division 2 teams and we didn’t know how good they were compared to who we play,” Groos said. “I’m glad we were able to push through in the second half.”
First half: 1. A, Christian von Weiss (Zach Snyder), :41; 2. P, Luke Yenter (Colin Jamison), 1:39.
Second half: 3. P, Tyus Groos (Trevor Glodowski), 61:24; 4. Groos, 66:05; 5. P, Groos (Yenter), 74:27.
Saves: Aquinas (Noah Snyder) 5, Pacelli (Patrick Rath) 3.
Records: Pacelli 23-0-0; Aquinas 6-11-0.