Boys Soccer: New Albany edges Cincinnati St. Xavier in Division I state semifinal

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Ryan Blackburn scored the tying goal and assisted on the winning goal as New Albany defeated Cincinnati St. Xavier 2-1 on Nov. 11 in a Division I state semifinal at Xenia.

XENIA — In some respects, the New Albany boys soccer team’s last two games have been carbon copies.

The Eagles fell behind Cincinnati St. Xavier midway through the first half of a Division I state semifinal Nov. 11 at Xenia, just as they had four days earlier in a regional final against Thomas Worthington.

And just as in that game, New Albany regrouped at halftime and scored two unanswered goals to take control.

The biggest difference is that the Eagles’ 2-1 win over the Bombers means they will play for their first state championship.

“It was the same speech I gave (during the regional final): ‘You know you deserve to be here, you’re here, I want 40 minutes of the best you can give me,’ ” coach Johnny Ulry said. “We have a lot of resilience on this team. The boys have a lot of fight. We knew there were gaps (in St. Xavier’s defense). We just had to finish opportunities.”

The Eagles improved to 18-3-1 and will play Cleveland St. Ignatius in the final at 7 p.m. Nov. 14 at Mapfre Stadium. The Wildcats, who defeated Medina 2-0 in the other semifinal Nov. 11, have won eight state titles.

Ryan Blackburn converted off a Derrick Harris assist with 34 minutes, 34 seconds left to tie it. He then headed the ball to Will Fischer for the game-winning goal with 20:11 to go.

“Calvin (Criger) was offside maybe five yards in front of me so I just stepped back and made sure I was onside. I was able to get through with the ball and place it bottom corner,” Fischer said. “As soon as we got that first goal, the whole field opened up a lot more for us. We were able to attack a lot more and that’s what led to us getting the second goal, all the pressure.”

Gage Weiner made eight saves for New Albany.

Briggs O’Toole had two saves for St. Xavier, which finished 16-3-2 and took a 1-0 lead when Tanner Creech scored in traffic with 13:38 left in the first half.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave