St. Xavier bows to St. Ignatius in Jesuit Cup

Had St. Xavier defeated New Albany in the Division I state soccer semifinals last November, they would have earned a shot in the title game against Cleveland St. Ignatius.

Instead, New Albany got the 2-1 win only to lose 4-1 to St. Ignatius in the championship.

How might that match have gone had the Bombers advanced?

Well, if Sunday's Jesuit Cup final at St. Xavier was any indicator, perhaps not well. St. Ignatius won comfortably 6-1. On a muggy afternoon, both coaches cleared their benches when the game was all but decided in the waning moments

Tanner Creech's penalty kick with 3:17 remaining was the lone Bomber goal.

St. Xavier's Rylan Earl (9) and Reece Heisel (14) double up on Antonio Morini (6) and gain control of the ball for the Bombers in the championship game of the 2021 Jesuit Cup at Ballaban Field at St. Xavier High School, Aug. 29, 2021.

"This weekend is always a big barometer early on to give us an idea where we stand against some of the best teams in the state," St. Ignatius coach Mike McLaughlin said. "St. X is such a big rivalry game."

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The Bombers kept St. Ignatius scoreless for nearly 20 minutes until junior midfielder Nolan Spicer scored. Ten minutes later senior mid Will Armsworthy scored, then Spicer added another for the 3-0 halftime advantage.

Junior forward Zsombor Onodi tallied twice in the second half with a successful boot by senior mid Luciano Pechota sandwiched between Onodi celebrations.

"We're having fun," McLaughlin said after hoisting the traveling trophy. "There's lots of smiles on their faces. If you can take the pressure and turn it into fun, with a group of talent like this, good things happen."

Junior keeper Patrick McLaughlin warded off a header by St. Xavier junior Reece Heisel in the first half. In the second, he deflected a would-be goal from Pat Ahrens off a corner by deflecting it over the bar. Beyond that, Creech's free shot was the highlight, spoiling the shutout.

St. Xavier's Gio Minghetti (19) lifts a header shot on goal for the Bombers in the championship game of the 2021 Jesuit Cup at Ballaban Field at St. Xavier High School, Aug. 29, 2021.

"It presents an opportunity to learn," St. Xavier coach Brian Schaeper said. "It's an opportunity early in the season to challenge yourself against the best. For us, it's a chance to grow. It's humility, which is a good thing to learn at this point in the season. There is a bar which is much higher than where we were today."

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