Crusaders fall at home in Division III sectional final

HEADING — Catholic Central’s Tom Beigel heads the ball during a Division III sectional final against Coshocton on Thursday. - Joe Catullo

STEUBENVILLE — The Catholic Central boys soccer team was on the ropes early against Coshocton, but the Crusaders were able to withstand the early attack by the Redskins.

Catholic Central fought back to tie the score, but Coshocton netted the final two goals of the game. The No. 4 seed Redskins defeated the No. 3 seed Crusaders, 4-2, in a Division III Eastern District sectional final Thursday evening at the Tony Recinella Soccer Field.

“We got down early, but we worked hard to get back into the game,” Catholic Central (10-3-3) head coach Steve Kopcha said. “We were able to get the goals back, but we were never able to get ahead of them.

“Coshocton is a great team. They kept competing. They did not let our comeback affect them. They were able to get one before the half ended, and then they were able to add another one in the second half.”

The Redskins came out strong and netted two goals in the first 12 minutes of the match.

“We did what we needed to do,” Coshocton (12-2-4) head coach Matt Hartley said. “We scouted them, so we knew what we had to do against their defense. We were able to have a plan ahead of time. We did not know what their keep was like going into the game. The times we saw them they did not handle the ball that much. We wanted to attack early and then see what would happen.”

With the win, Coshocton will play No. 2 seed Bishop Rosecrans at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the district semifinals. Bishop Rosecrans advanced by defeating No. 9 seed Caldwell, 10-0, in another sectional final Thursday night at home.

“This was a big win for us,” Hartley said. “We got beat here two years ago. We came down here, and we were able to get revenge for the kids who are still here. This is another sectional championship for us.

“We have been slighted all year with the district polls and stuff. The schedule we play is superior to most of our opponents. Now, it is on to districts.”

Tom Beigel and Anthony Venditti each tallied an unassisted goal for Catholic Central. Goalie Michael Duff made two saves.

Nicolo Barbarossa collected a hat trick and an assist to lead the way for Coshocton, while Ethan Brown netted a goal. Judah Nelson delivered a pair of assists, while Simon Stick collected one. Luke Ramsey recorded five saves in goal.

“I had not seen them play, but I knew what to expect,” Kopcha said. “Barbarossa is very talented. He is a great goal scorer. They have had a lot of kids score goals this season. They are balanced offensively. They have different guys who can score.”

The Redskins did a good job of playing the ball long through the Crusader’s defense up to Barbarossa.

“They have some talented forwards,” Kopcha said. “They like to play the ball up quickly. They use their speed to go to goal.”

Barbarossa scored the first goal for the Redskins before recording the final two.

He opened the scoring about seven minutes into the match off of an assist from Nelson, giving Coshocton a 1-0 lead. The Redskins delivered their second goal — this one from Brown off of a feed from Barbarossa — about five minutes later to increase their advantage to 2-0.

Beigel put the Crusaders on the board around the midway point of the first half, as his goal pulled the hosts to within 2-1.

Catholic Central tied the score about five minutes later when Venditti netted his goal.

“We just settled down,” Kopcha said. “We were fortunate that we were able to keep our composure. We were able to possess the ball more. As a result of keeping possession, we were able to create some scoring chances, and we scored on a couple of them.”

The Crusaders were able to take advantage of a couple of mistakes by the Redskins on defense to even the score.

“We had a couple of misplays,” Hartley said. “We lost the momentum. We were able to get the momentum back. In the second half, they played really well. We were able to keep them off of the scoreboard. We did a good job of forcing to shoot from the outside instead of in the box.”

Barbarossa scored his second goal of the game off of an assist from Stick to give Coshocton a 3-2 lead with a couple minutes left in the first half.

Barbarossa capped the scoring about 22 minutes into the second half to regain a two-goal advantage for the Redskins. Nelson assisted on the goal.

The game was the final one for Catholic Central’s seven seniors (Patrick Kuebler, Ethan Moore, Gian Asci, Daniel Kissinger, Matthew Duff, Christian Lesnefsky and Beigel).

“It is tough right now,” Kopcha said. “As a whole, we are losing a good group of seniors. They have been with the program their whole careers. I was happy with the leadership they provided. We were able to win another OVAC championship. We had good development from the younger guys. It was fun to watch them develop.

“The last game is always tough. You never want it to end. Only three teams will be happy at the end of the year.”

Coshocton advanced to the sectional final by defeating No. 8 seed Edison, 7-0, Tuesday night at home in the semifinals.

Two years ago, third-seeded Catholic Central defeated fifth-seeded Coshocton, 5-0, at home in a sectional co-final to advance to the district semifinals. Catholic Central went on to lose to top-seeded Tuscarawas Valley, 4-3, in the district semifinal at Minerva. Coshocton defeated ninth-seeded Edison, 5-0, in the sectional semifinals at home before losing to Catholic Central.

“They have gotten older since then,” Kopcha said. “They have added some foreign exchange students to their program. They have grown in the past couple of years. They have developed. They have added talent to their program.”