Crusaders blank Potters, will face Cadets next

WELLSBURG – Catholic Central’s 1-2 punch up top was too much to handle for East Liverpool.

Leo Herrmann recorded two goals, and John-Paul McNamara netted one leading the No. 1 seeded Crusaders boys soccer team to a 5-0 victory over No. 8 seed East Liverpool in an OVAC Cup Tournament quarterfinal Monday evening at Brooke High School.

Herrmann’s two goals give him 39 on the season and 108 in his career. McNamara’s goal was his 10th of the season, and he also has 22 assists.

The Crusaders (11-0-1) were able to keep pressure on the Potters (5-5-1) for most of the game.

“That is what we try to do,” veteran Catholic Central head coach Steve Kopcha said. “We try to play in our offensive end. We try to keep them from having possession of the ball. We want to keep pressure on them. We were able to that today, and we were able to come away with a win in the quarterfinals. We want to sustain as much pressure on their defense as possible.”

Catholic Central advances to take on Linsly in the tourney semifinals at 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon at Wheeling Island Stadium. The Cadets (10-3) advanced to the semifinals by defeating Big Red (7-3-1), 2-0, in Monday’s second quarterfinal.

“They are tough to mark,” second-year East Liverpool head coach Zack Kinsey said about Herrmann and McNamara. “Defensively, we tried to keep the ball away from them. They are tough players. They are fast, and they have great skills.

“I thought our defense played well. We made some minor mistakes, but we also had some opportunities to score. We didn’t capitalize.”

Herrmann opened the scoring with a goal early in the match to give the Crusaders a 1-0 advantage, and Catholic Central was on its way to a victory.

“We are excited about making the tournament,” Kinsey said. “This is the first time in eight years that we have made the tournament. It is an honor to be here and play. We snuck in on the last day.”

Jacob Decker and Harold Rogers also scored goals for the Crusaders.

Brady Bolger tallied two assists for the victors, and Jacob Rigaud and Pat Hernon also ended up with assists.

“We went over a game plan for them,” Kinsey said. “We executed it well, but they are a good team. They are 11-0-1 for a reason. They have a great core of kids, but we played with a lot of heart.

“We played them last year. I knew what they had. I knew they were going to get better this season.

“Leo has scored 108 goals. We tried to contain him. We had Sean Falloon mark him. Joey Mercer played well on the outside. We just had a few minor mistakes, and they were able to get goals off of them.

John Bolster made eight saves for the Crusaders.

“I didn’t know too much about them,” Kopcha said about the Potters. “We played them last year. It was a competitive match, and today was more of the same. I didn’t doubt that. I just didn’t know how many seniors they lost from last year. They are well coached. Their kids play hard. It was a very good game. It was a challenging game.”

The Potters had opportunities to score in each half, but Bolster and the Crusaders’ defense were able to rise up and meet the challenge.

“I am happy with the win,” Kopcha said. “We still need to work on some things. We need to improve. Whoever we play will be a big challenge for us on Saturday.”

The Crusaders have done a good job of finding the back of the net on offense so far this season, while keeping the opposition from doing the same.

“Our defense did a stellar job,” Kopcha said. “We were able to limit their chances. We did not give up any goals tonight.

“Bolster in goal along with Carlo (Fabian), Blake (Kierdowski) and Jacob (Decker) all play well in the back. They give us time to finish on offense. We are able to play with the lead.”

East Liverpool is scheduled to play at 7 p.m. today against rival Oak Glen at Mangano Field.

“I don’t think it will be tough,” Kinsey said about his team having to play on back-to-back days. “I think the excitement of playing here will carry over into tomorrow night’s game. The kids aren’t tired. We are playing a local rival. The kids will be up for it. We will be ready.”

The Crusaders defeated the Cadets earlier this season.

“Linsly has speed, talent and skill,” Kopcha said. “That is definitely a deadly combination. They are a talented team.”