An offensive flurry has put the Catholic Fightin’ Irish boys’ soccer team on the verge of back-to-back Class 1 state championships.
Catholic defeated Bayless 4-1 in the state semifinals at Blue Springs South High on Friday behind three goals in a 5-minute span early in the first half.
An impressive, bend-shot goal from Catholic junior midfielder Reilly Harbach got the Irish on the board just over 10 minutes into the game. Harbach had space from about 18 yards out on the left side and wrapped the ball past the diving attempt of Bronchos goalkeeper Almir Mesanovic.
“I had an opening and tried to curl it to the back post,” Harbach said. “I didn’t even think it was going to go in. I thought it would hit the post.”
Catholic went up 2-0 just two minutes later when Tommy Giovanni scored. Harbach got a piece of Daniel Renner’s throw-in from the corner to set up Giovanni for the goal.
Catholic made a stunned Bayless defense pay again just one minute later when Ryan Randell put the Irish ahead 3-0. Irish senior Mitchell Moncada got the assist on Randell’s goal as he made a long run down the field to gain control of the ball, then shook a Bayless defender with a nifty spin move to set up the score.
The three quick goals gave Catholic the cushion it needed to advance to its fourth consecutive Class 1 title game. The Irish lost to Whitfield in 2009 and 2010 before beating Pembroke Hill last year.
“We played an awesome, awesome first 15 minutes of the game and got the goals we needed to hang on,” said Irish coach Tom Guinn. “Bayless didn’t buckle. They kept battling back. They didn’t play the style we anticipated, we thought they would knock balls in the air and try to win them, but they kept the ball on the ground and played a good style of soccer.”
Bayless made it 3-1 late in the first half when Irfan Husic scored. Catholic answered back just a few minutes later on a Moncada goal off Giovanni’s corner kick.
Catholic will play Southern Boone County at 2 p.m. tomorrow at Blue Springs South High School. The Irish beat Southern Boone 3-0 in the quarterfinals last year.
Harbach said a handful of Irish and Eagles players are on the same club team. Thus, it’s a natural rivalry.
“The score didn’t really reflect the game,” Harbach said. “They almost scored on us first. Before we scored that first goal, it was really close.”
Catholic 4, Bayless 1
Catholic – Reilly Harbach (Blake Bremer assist), 29:35
Catholic – Tommy Giovanni (Harbach assist), 26:28
Catholic – Ryan Randell (Mitchell Moncada assist), 25:14
Bayless – Irfan Husic (Dino Ahmetovic assist), 4:40
Catholic – Moncada (Giovanni assist), 1:45