St. Joseph’s boys soccer coach Frank Kucinic said he has a blue-collar team this year.
“We lost a little bit of that finesse,” he said.
There was no sense hunting around for it Tuesday night. Finesse took a back seat in the top-ranked Knights’ 4-0 victory over No. 2 Christ Church in a Region 2-A match at the Cavaliers’ Carson Stadium.
This one was about braun and not necessarily in a good way.
“That was one of the ugliest soccer games I’ve ever seen,” Christ Church coach David Wilcox said. “Obviously we played poorly, and they were just a better team tonight.”
“I knew it was going to be a physical battle,” said Kucinic. “It always is. The mile rival. It is what it is. The physicality was expected — not to the extent that it showed.
“But I’m extremely proud of my guys for keeping their cool and kind of making sure our actions spoke a little bit louder than words.”
The Knights (14-5-1, 10-0), three-time defending state champions, scored twice in the first half on penalty kicks by Clemson recruit Andrew Burnikel.
The first came after the referee ruled that Christ Church’s goalkeeper impeded on a St. Joe’s player’s attempt to play the ball. The second came as the result of a handball in the box.
B.J. Tally added a third goal for the Knights when he made good on a shot from just outside the box in the 59th minute. Theo Longenecker completed the scoring on a header that found the back of the net in the 64th minute.
The game was physical in the first half. It became something more than chippy in the second half, during which the Cavaliers collected two yellow cards and a red card.
“As a program and as a school, I thought we handled ourselves really well with the adversity,” Kucinic said. “It’s so easy to get caught up in the emotion of things and to lose sight of what got you to where you are.
“What’s gotten us here is this notion of trying to pass it around. In fact, the only way to break the pressure if a team comes out and plays a little bit physical is to play out of it. If you just knock it back over to them, they’re going to come right back at you with the physicality. It’s advantageous to be able to move it around, and we did that.
“I’m thankful that we kept our cool and played the style of soccer that we’ve grown accustomed to playing at St. Joe’s.”