The Ballard boys’ soccer team began play last week and quickly showed why it is ranked No. 1 in the Kentucky High School Soccer Coaches Association poll.
The Bruins started their 2011 campaign by thumping Floyd Central 9-1 on Aug. 16 and followed a day later with a 9-2 defeat of then-No. 9 South Oldham.
Third-year head coach Rob Zoeller attributes the early results to a mix of hard work and rhythm.
“We’ve just found a little rhythm in the game and been able to put the ball in the back of the net,” said Zoeller. “A lot of it is the hard work of the boys…and having a little luck.”
Nine starters are back from a 20-3 team that fell to Oldham County 2-1 in the Region Eight final.
Senior forwards Chris Moore and Jacob Scearce are two of the state’s most potent offensive threats, but Zoeller believes goals will come from a variety of players this season.
“It’s really enjoyable to watch Chris and Jacob play, but also having guys like Cam (Vine), Stephen (Hubert) and (Carvajal) Santiago helps take some pressure off of them,” said Zoeller.
“We’ve had eight to ten guys bag goals for us so far this year and it’s been good,” he added.
UK-bound Scearce racked up five goals and five assists in the first two matches. Moore, a Xavier commit, has added three goals.
Nipping at Ballard’s heels is a surfeit of talented Louisville-area teams.
No. 2 Male, led by first-year coach Chris Barron, is 4-0 and won the Fayette County iHigh Soccer Frenzy tournament last Saturday, dominating defending state champion Henry Clay 3-1 in the final.
The Bulldogs lost leading scorer Dylan Terry (30 goals) to graduation, but added one of the area’s most exciting freshmen in midfielder Amar Sejdic.
In July Sejdic was one of 48 players who attended a weeklong U15 Boys’ National Team training camp at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
“In Carson the pace was quicker and you had to recognize space quickly,” said Sejdic. “Now in high school soccer, I’m relaxed and have more time.”
Sejdic has four goals and two assists through four games this season.
St. Xavier, winners of six state titles in the last decade, will lean on prolific senior forwards Neil Henley (Xavier commit) and Mitchell Metzger (Colgate commit).
The Tigers were 19-4-2 in 2010 and won the Sixth Region before losing to Collegiate 2-1 in the first round of the state tournament.
“We have 25 guys who can make a positive contribution,” said coach Andy Schulten. “We just have to find the right blend.”
Oldham County is loaded with returning talent including senior midfielder Dallas Moore, junior forward Jared Kemper (10 goals last season) and senior forward Jake Davis (eight goals).
“It looks like Ballard is the cream of the crop and everyone else is playing catch-up, “ said Colonels’ coach Brian Durbin. “We’re going to progress as the season goes along and try to compete with them in the Eighth Region.”
“We stay humble and work hard,” said Moore. “We like to be a blue-collar team.”
Barry Swearingen begins his first season at Trinity with four returning starters and a top goalkeeper in junior Chris Hubbard.
The Shamrocks started the season strong with wins against Nelson County (5-1), John Hardin (2-0) and St. Henry (2-0).
Collegiate returns five starters from a 21-3 squad that won the Seventh Region and advanced to the state quarterfinals before falling to Central Hardin 1-0 in overtime.
Crafty midfielder Kennedy Kommor tallied seven goals and 18 assists as a sophomore and returns as one of the state’s top juniors. Senior forward Jack Lindner netted 23 goals last season.
This week eight teams ranked in the state’s Top 25 butt heads in the Land Rover Kentucky Cup hosted by Ballard.
In addition to Ballard, the field includes Male, No. 3 St. Xavier, No. 5 Covington Catholic, No. 6 Oldham Co., No. 13 Collegiate, No. 15 South Oldham and No. 20 Ft. Thomas Highlands.
First round play began Monday and the championship match is slated for Saturday at 7 p.m. with a third-place consolation match kicking-off at 5 p.m.
Contact columnist Chris Cahill at email@example.com.
Category: High School Sports Report