By Tom Gamble, GCL South Commissioner
Senior Nathan Neal’s header with 11 minutes remaining in regulation snapped a 2-2 tie and helped St. Xavier defeat Loveland, 3-2, in the Southwest District 2 final of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Boys’ Soccer Tournament Saturday night at Princeton High School’s Viking Stadium. The victory was the seventh straight for coach Brian Schaeper’s Bombers, who now advance to meet Anderson in the regional semifinals at 7 p.m. today at Monroe High School. The district title was the 18th district title overall for St. Xavier, and the program’s first since 2014.
Moeller, the regular-season GCL South champion and the No. 1 overall seed in the Southwest District entering postseason play, had its eight-match unbeaten streak snapped in in 2-1 loss to Centerville in the Southwest District 1 final Saturday night at Hamilton High School. Thomas Damon scored Moeller’s lone goal, assisted by Parker Grinstead. Moeller finished with one of the best seasons in school history, posting an impressive 14-2-3 mark that included a 5-0-1 record in GCL South play.
Centerville (14-3-3) meets undefeated Beavercreek (18-0-2) in the other regional semifinal at 7 tonight at Lebanon Junior High School. Both schools are members of the Greater Western Ohio Conference and compete in the GWOC’s National East Division. The regional final is set for Saturday at a site and time to be announced. The state semifinals will be played on Wednesday, November 8.
St. Xavier (11-4-4) seems to have saved its best soccer for the postseason. After a first-round bye, the No. 5 seed Bombers defeated GCL South colleague La Salle, 2-1, at home in the second round and then knocked off No. 4 Mason, 1-0, a week ago to advance to the district title match. St. Xavier took a 1-0 lead with 26 minutes remaining in the first half when junior Matthew Sutton made a cross to classmate Gino Geiser, who found the back of the net. Loveland tied the score a short time later, but the Bombers responded when Neal played a ball over the top to senior Will Watkins, who scored to give St. Xavier a 2-1 halftime lead.
Once again, though, Loveland came back to tie the score with 22 minutes left. St. Xavier’s winning goal came after junior Luke Rockwood took a throw in and sent it inside the box to Neal, who was able to head in the deflection and score what turned out to be the game-winning goal. The Bombers’ defense and goalkeeper Lucas Marshall made the victory stand up with solid defense down the stretch.
St. Xavier will try and defeat its second Eastern Cincinnati Conference member in five days when it meet Anderson, which defeated Dayton Carroll, 3-2, in overtime in its district final. The two teams met during the regular season back on August 22 at Anderson, when the Redskins emerged with a 2-1 victory. Anderson closed the regular season with a 15-1-0 record, with the lone loss at Moeller, 2-0, on August 26. Since that defeat, Anderson has won 17 straight matches, including four straight in the postseason.