St. Xavier routs Ballard in battle of two Top 15 teams

St. Xavier routs Ballard in battle of two Top 15 teams

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St. Xavier routs Ballard in battle of two Top 15 teams

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Ballard midfielder Zab Justiniano and Saint Xavier midfielder Theodore Ennenbach vie for the ball. 07 September 2016

Ballard midfielder Zab Justiniano and Saint Xavier midfielder Theodore Ennenbach vie for the ball.
07 September 2016

St. Xavier soccer coach Andy Schulten says this season’s team is the deepest he’s had in years.

“It’s an embarrassment of riches,” he said. “We had guys that we ended up having to cut who, I think, would’ve been key players on teams in the recent past.”

On Wednesday night, the Tigers’ depth was on full display in their 6-2 win at Ballard. Six different players scored goals, and three others had assists, as St. X handed the previously-unbeaten Bruins their first loss in a matchup between two of the top teams in the city and state.

Lucas Mudd, Patrick Haugh, Bennett Moorman, Max Gordinier, Sam Graber and Alex Pisacrita all netted goals for the Tigers (6-1-2), who are No. 3 in the MaherRankings.com ratings.

GALLERY | St. X boys soccer routs Ballard

“We don’t have any superstars,” Schulten said. “We didn’t have any superstars last year, or the year before that. We’ve just got a lot of guys that are really good, and if they can buy into the fact that as soon as you get tired you come off the field and we’ll replace you with somebody that’s going to be better than you on that given night, (we can) try to run teams into the ground.”

The Tigers ran out to an early lead against No. 14 Ballard (6-1), as Mudd scored in the fourth minute of the match.

“It was a bad pass by the midfielder on the opposing team and I got the ball,” the junior striker said of his team-leading sixth goal of the season. “Just looking up, I had a lot of space to dribble and I took the space, got into a collision with one of their players, kept going through and just took the shot.”

St. X made it 2-0 in the 26th minute on Haugh’s first goal of the season. But the Bruins, who were coming off a 3-0 win over sixth-ranked – and defending state champion – Covington Catholic on Tuesday night, quickly answered when Toni Gubo knocked in a corner kick one minute later to cut the Tigers’ lead in half.

It stayed 2-1 until the 50th minute, when Gubo was whistled for tripping in the box. The call – which Ballard coach Mark Benitez vehemently argued, earning him a yellow card – resulted in a penalty kick for the Tigers. Moorman converted to give the Tigers some breathing room. Ten minutes later, Gordinier headed in a cross from Beau Brooks to make it 4-1.

Once again, though, the Bruins quickly answered, as midfielder Ezra Ness got through the teeth of the Tigers’ defense for his team-best eighth goal of the season.

However it was too little, too late for Ballard.

“I told the boys after the game that this one was on me,” Benitez said, whose team had allowed only four goals in its first six matches. “I should never have scheduled back-to-back games with two top-five teams. But it was a learning experience, you’ve got to take your lumps now so you can grow in the end.”

Graber and Pisacrita tacked on goals toward the end for St. X to account for the final margin.

“I’m still looking for that one guy to step up and just take over,” Schulten said. “It could be anyone of six or seven guys to just take over and be the guy on the team. But if I get 20 more performances like tonight, I’ll take them.”

St. Xavier 6 (Lucas Mudd, Patrick Haugh, Bennett Moorman, Max Gordinier, Sam Graber, Alex Pisacrita), Ballard 2 (Toni Gubo, Ezra Ness)

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