Glendale shuts out Catholic to claim 11th straight district title

By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)

Goalkeeper Cole Vincel and his Glendale teammates heard the chatter all offseason.

Glendale, after graduating superb senior classes the last two years, would be taking a step back in 2022.

Just in case any more motivation was needed, coach Jeff Rogers reiterated a similar message in Glendale’s first practice of the season.

“He told us we’re not really standouts,” Vincel said. “Every game is going to be about grit. We’ll have to work hard. We may not have the talent of last year, so we have to have the work ethic to make up for it.”

Challenge accepted – and conquered.

The Falcons are in the postseason again, thanks to a 2-0 win over Catholic on Thursday night in the Class 3 District 5 Tournament finals. The Falcons have now won 11 straight district titles dating back to the 2012 season.

Rogers recalled planting the motivational seeds for 2022’s campaign back in August.

“That first practice, I told them they’re going to surprise a lot of teams this year. And they have,” Rogers said. “Considering what we lost, and then had two other players who didn’t return, I couldn’t be prouder of these boys.”

Fittingly, Glendale secured Thursday’s win with second-half goals from seniors Luis Castro-Hernandez (50’) and Lincoln Wimmer (78’).

“We preach to our kids: ‘With seniors, it means so much more,’” Rogers said. “You look around at Kickapoo, Nixa, Catholic and other teams – they have a great group of seniors. They just play at a different level this time of year. I’m just glad our seniors stepped up.”

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS OF THE GAME

Glendale (23-4 overall) will play at Webb City in the Class 3 quarterfinals next Saturday, Nov. 12. With a win, Glendale would advance to the state final four for the third straight season and ninth time overall.

For seniors like Vincel, it’s now or never.

“This is our last year. We have to make a (postseason) march,” Vincel said. “Any game from now on could be our last. Everyone knows that. We’ve been telling the underclassmen that. It’s the motivation that some of us could never play this game again.”

This year’s Glendale squad has come a long way since preseason practice.

“This group, for me, is what I needed this year,” Rogers said. “Because sometimes kids give more back to a coach than you give to the kids. This has been a special group for me.”

Vincel has become a cornerstone at goalkeeper for a Glendale team that thrives on defense, a significant shift from recent Falcon teams.

In his first and only season as a starter, Vincel has set the program record for single-season shutouts with 20. The previous record (17) had stood for nearly 30 years.

After setting the record in Glendale’s district opener versus Parkview, Vincel received a game ball signed by Glendale players and coaches.

“It means the world to me. It really does,” Vincel said. “I’ve been working hard for this for four years. Haven’t really had many opportunities, so this my final chance to do something like that.”

CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO OF THE GAME

On a blustery night, Glendale forged a scoreless tie at halftime despite playing into a heavy south wind.

“I was hoping we could get a few better looks before halftime,” said Catholic coach Tom Davidson. “When we had the wind, if we can get a few good looks and get up by a goal or two, maybe we can hang in there.”

The Falcons finally broke through 10 minutes into the second half, when Castro-Hernandez blasted a shot home from about 25 yards out in the middle of the field.

Glendale iced the win with Wimmer’s header in the final two minutes.

The Falcons also blanked Catholic (1-0) in the regular season.

“The boys in our backline, they’re incredible. They’re awesome,” Vincel said. “I wouldn’t have got the shutout record without them. They have been everything. They lock down star players and they do a great job of shutting down the other team on runs.”

Said Rogers: “We know who we are. We’re not beating teams by six or seven goals like we did last year. But it’s hard to find a goal against, and then, we’ll eventually find one.”

For the third year in a row, Catholic’s season ends with a loss to Glendale in the district finals. The Irish finish 15-9-1 overall.

“Our team battled all year,” Davidson said. “For us to be here, in this situation and have a chance, I couldn’t be more proud.”

Davidson, one of the area’s winningest coaches all-time, returned to the sidelines this year after a brief coaching hiatus. Davidson said he’s open to coaching Catholic again in 2023.

“I’m happy to be back,” Davidson said. “I wasn’t sure at first, but Catholic is a great place. The support of the parents, players and community, I couldn’t be happier. We’d like to be moving on, of course.

“This year really helped me in my personal life, too, because (coaching) is what I do. We’ll take some to evaluate, but I think it’s leaning toward me coming back. We’ll have a really good group set to return next year.”

Glendale will have nine days off until its next match – at Webb City on Nov. 12.

Rogers said Glendale is equipped to handle the extra wait.

“We’re fortunate because we can lace up and go 10-on-10 in practice and still be competitive,” he said. “Some programs, if you only have 16 or 17 kids, what are you doing for 10 days? I know our kids put it all out there tonight, so having a few days off will be good for us. We’ll look forward to next Saturday.”

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