Lexington Catholic’s first appearance the KHSAA Boys’ Soccer State Tournament in 10 years did not go as the Knights hoped.
Ryle, ranked eighth in the latest Maher Rankings, defeated No. 5 LexCath on the road, 2-0. The Raiders earned a berth to Saturday’s quarterfinals, where they’ll meet either Corbin or Pikeville (the game between those two was moved from Monday to Tuesday night).
Freshman Lance Paul delivered a corner kick in the 24th minute that found the left foot of his brother, junior Evan Paul, who knocked it into the opposite corner. The Raiders (22-2-2) added a second goal after junior Chris Pastrana got into the box tapped one through in the 66th minute.
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It was the first time the Knights (17-7-2) allowed more than one goal in a game since Oct. 5.
“They’ve got a good chance to get to the finals. They really do,” LexCath Coach Jonathan Kincheloe said of the Raiders. “ … When you get to this point, you’ve go to play your best and tonight we were not our best. I think we were overwhelmed a little bit. I think the moment got to us more than I expected it to.”
Ryle’s back line was stingy and never allowed Catholic to get into a rhythm on a chilly, misty evening. Both teams had one day to prepare after winning their respective region finals — LexCath over Dunbar and Ryle over Highlands — on Saturday.
“That’s a quality team with a great defense and we never could break it down. They fly to the ball and they get behind the ball every single time,” Kincheloe said. “We knew they were well organized and we knew their defense would be hard to break down.”
Brian Banahan, Catholic’s leading goal scorer with 24 this season, is a junior and its starting keeper, Ian Rothbauer, is a sophomore. LexCath will graduate 11 seniors, among whom four — Keegan Bailey, Tyler Kenney, Joseph Stuber and Francisco Rios — started on Monday night.
Kincheloe lauded their contributions.
“Every guy to the man, whether he’s playing 80 minutes or playing one minute, every guy has made this team what they are this year,” Kincheloe said. “I’m very proud of those seniors. We had guys come out that hadn’t played soccer in two or three years and they were starters and they made a huge impact.”
“Our backline was mostly seniors this year and it’s gonna be hard to replace those guys. The leadership, too, it’s gonna be hard to replace the leadership.”
Catholic was in the state tournament for the first time since 2007 and for the first time under Kincheloe. Its 17 wins were the program’s most since 2006.
“It’s hard right now to understand what we’ve accomplished, cause you’re hurt and it stings. We’ll take a few days I think and be able to look back on this as a great season.”