Boys Soccer: Early deficit dooms New Albany in Division I state final

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group

The New Albany boys soccer team was no stranger to playing from behind in the postseason, and no deficit yet had deterred its run toward a Division I state championship.

But the 2-0 hole into which the Eagles fell less than eight minutes into the state final Nov. 14 against perennial power Cleveland St. Ignatius at Mapfre Stadium ultimately proved too tall a hill to climb, although New Albany held its own most of the rest of the way in a 4-1 loss.

“After that (start) we started competing more and got after it a little bit,” Eagles coach Johnny Ulry said. “Second half, we came out ready to go. The emotion of the game was gone at that point. We knew what they were throwing at us and we got after it. We started to rattle them a little bit and got the better of the play, but then we got a little tired and they got a breakthrough.”

New Albany's Gabe Anthony is upset with a call during the Division I state final Nov. 14 at Mapfre Stadium. New Albany lost 4-1.

Nolan Spicer and Marko Rimac scored in the first 7 minutes, 10 seconds to set the tone for the Wildcats, who won their second consecutive championship and 10th overall and finished 21-0.

The Eagles, who finished 18-4-1, were making their first state final appearance and second state tournament appearance. The other was in 2001, when they were in Division III.

New Albany, which trailed 1-0 at halftime in each of its previous two tournament games only to win 2-1, pulled within 2-1 with 38:05 to play when Henri Heyes headed in a corner kick from Jakob Bering. 

The Wildcats pulled away with goals in the final 20:30 from Spicer and Luciano Pechota.

St. Ignatius outshot New Albany 21-11. Eagles goalie Gage Weiner made four saves.

Wildcats coach Mike McLaughlin said his team, which outscored its opponents 98-9, followed a yearlong trend of establishing control early.

“Every game we’ve played this year, we’ve had chances early and when we’ve scored on those chances, we’ve been fine. When we haven’t, it’s been a struggle,” McLaughlin said. “If we put those chances away, everything changes.”

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave