By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
Bishop LeBlond got a game winning overtime goal over Central, while Benton held on for a 1-0 win over Lafayette in the opening round of the boys' soccer city round robin at Bode Middle School Monday.
LeBlond beat St. Joseph Central in a physical, 3-2 contest after senior Eli Spencer converted on a penalty kick with just under two minutes left in the overtime period.
"Well, I saw their goalie (Charles Klein) was playing a little bit towards the left," Spencer said. "So, I just looked him down left and went right and just trusted my approach and was able to make it."
Central got the scoring started with 14:24 left in the first half when sophomore Luke Catherall scored on an unassisted goal from just a few yards out to put the Indians ahead 1-0 at halftime.
LeBlond tied the match less than four minutes into the second half when sophomore Davis Jungbluth scored on a goal assisted by junior Aidan Seiter.
After a scoreless back-and-forth for nearly 30 minutes, Central's Catherall found the goal again - this time on a penalty kick to put his team ahead 2-1 with 7:52 left in regulation.
With time waning, freshman Cooper Waterman took a rainbow shot from about 15 yards out and put it top shelf to tie the match at 2-2 with 3:01 left on the clock.
The match was physical throughout. Central was called on nine fouls and LeBlond had six. The Indians were dealt two yellow cards - one with 27 seconds left in regulation and one right before Spencer's winning shot.
"Toward the end there, it was getting a little chippy," Spencer said. "Which, I mean, that's just both teams being competitive and both teams going at it, but yeah. It definitely helped for us to keep our composure."
LeBlond faces Benton on Tuesday afternoon at 4:30 at Spark Field.
Benton's Connor Mears scores early second half goal to lift Cardinals
The first 20 or so minutes of the Benton vs. Lafayette match featured only a couple of shots-on-goal by both teams combined.
Then, Benton started to loosen up, break away and take more shots on Lafayette keeper Camin Cruse-Bernard.
The Irish kept the Cardinals scoreless in the first half, but sophomore Connor Mears got a nice cross in the middle and sent it through to give Benton a 1-0 lead with 39:21 remaining. It's all that Benton would end up needing.
"It felt amazing scoring the first goal of the season," Mears said, "and running the offense so well."
Cruse-Bernard had an active and mostly successful night in the goal for Lafayette, making 14 saves as the Cardinals fired 15 shots-on-goal compared to just five by the Irish.
Benton coach Joey Hendrix credits his team's adrenaline level as the reason for so much offensive energy. Especially from a team that's so young and just graduated 12 seniors.
"Really, that's what it was to be honest," Hendrix said. "They executed well. It was a close, scoring game. I know Lafayette has a lot of new guys, too. So, I think it was a lot of adrenaline tonight for both teams."
With the score tied at 0-0 at halftime, Hendrix told his team during the break that being tied at zero does not equate to playing poorly.
He simply wanted his team to relax, have fun and have a positive attitude in the second half. Hendrix hopes to see more of that when the Cardinals face LeBlond on Tuesday.
"You have to play the full 80 minutes," he said. "Try hard the full 80 minutes. I told them you're not going to win them all. Everything is not going to go your way, so I'm really looking for positive attitude, no matter how the game shakes out."
Central and Lafayette will also play Tuesday evening at 6:30 at Sparks Field. The round robin concludes Thursday.
You can follow Tommy on Twitter @TommyKFEQ and St. Joseph Post @StJosephPost.