For the Sacred Heart field hockey team, the Apple streak lives on.
Senior Hadleigh Frank deposited a pair of first-half goals and the host Valkyries topped Assumption 3-1 on Aug. 26 to claim their ninth-straight Apple Invitational title.
â€œIâ€™m really excited that we pulled through,â€ said Frank, a senior. â€œIâ€™ve won every year here and wouldâ€™ve been really upset if we lost.â€
Sacred Heart rolled through Presentation 7-3, Charlotte Country Day (N.C.) 8-0 and Male 9-0 to reach the final of the 40th annual preseason event.
Frank, who notched eight goals during the weekend, put Sacred Heart on the board less than five minutes into the first half when she took a pass from Maddie Latino and finished from close range. The two connected in similar fashion eight minutes later for a 2-0 bulge.
â€œI thought (the early lead) gave us a good cushion and let us settle down,â€ said Latino.
Assumptionâ€™s Haley Aldridge answered with 4:46 remaining in the first half, but two minutes into the second half, Latino found the goal and provided the final margin.
â€œWe have a long, long, long way to go, but Iâ€™m pleased as much as I can be for August,â€ said Valkyries coach Liz Lewis.
Assumption tied Manual 0-0 and beat Hathaway Brown (Ohio) 5-0 and Mercy 7-1 in pool play.
â€œThereâ€™s absolutely no reason we couldnâ€™t have beaten them,â€ said Assumption coach Debbie Judd. â€œâ€¦Normally I donâ€™t care what happens in the Apple because itâ€™s so early, but this year it was a little bit later, so I care today.â€
Sacred Heart â€“ Hadleigh Frank, Caroline Fowler, Kennedy Brislin and Kristin Matula
Assumption â€“ Hailey Netherton, Lillie Nitzken and Audra Kinney
Manual â€“ Ciara Cosby
Presentation â€“ Elena Curley
Mercy â€“ Hannah Spoelker
Male â€“ Jessica Chandler
Under a hot morning sun last Saturday, Holy Cross senior Jacob Thomson â€“ the reigning Class-A state champion â€“ picked up right where he left off as a junior.
From start to finish Thomson led a strong Tiger Run field at Champions Park and broke the tape in 15 minutes, 27 seconds to claim his second straight win at the season-opening event.
â€œIâ€™m more fit than Iâ€™ve ever been coming into a season,â€ said Thomson, who is ranked No. 15 in the nation by MileSplit.com. â€œThe last six or seven weeks Iâ€™ve been training very consistently.â€
Butlerâ€™s Patrick Gregory was second (15:39), followed by Connor Sheryak of St. Xavier (15:42).
St. X placed five other runners in the top 10 â€“ Sam Lewis (4th, 15:48), Nick Reader (5th, 16:01), Max Mudd (8th, 16:15), Thomas Cave (9th, 16:20) and Chris Striegel (10th, 16:20) â€“ and won the team title with 17 points. Bedford North Lawrence (Ind.) was a distant second with 130 and Beavercreek (Ohio) placed third (152). Eastern, led by Charles Statler (41st, 17:13), was fourth with 224.
Defending Class 3-A state champion Assumption, ranked No. 10 nationally by MileSplit, did not send its top group to the girlsâ€™ meet, but several of the areaâ€™s best showed up, including Manual senior Cassidy Hale, who placed second (18:45) behind Sydney Leiher of Beavercreek. Leiher finished in 18 minutes, 29 seconds.
â€œThis is a really good start to my season,â€ said Hale, the reigning 3-A state champion. â€œThere are some great runners here and they really pushed me.â€
Sacred Heartâ€™s Maggie Allen (4th, 19:08), Holy Crossâ€™ Karly Gawarecki (7th, 19:39) and Manualâ€™s Kristen Hale (8th, 19:44), twin sister of Cassidy, were other local top-10 finishers
Beavercreek placed five runners in the top 25 to win the team title with 73 points. Manual was second (98), followed by Sacred Heart (121).
After 80 minutes of back-and-forth play last Saturday, St. Xavier and South Oldham were knotted at 2-2 and the final of the Land Rover Kentucky Cup at Ballard was to be decided in a penalty shootout.
Fortunately for the Tigers, their goalkeeper Patrick Schwarz â€“ a backup playing in only his second game since starter Wes Luvisi suffered a thumb injury â€“ was about to prove himself more than just a dutiful understudy.
After Adam Kirsch netted St. Xâ€™s first attempt, Schwarz extended for a diving save to his left and denied Southâ€™s Christian Lister.
â€œI just read where he was going and went for it,â€ said Schwarz, a junior. â€œI knew I let in some easy ones during the game and I wanted to make it up for my team.â€
South goalie Griffin Smith delivered a save of his own on St. Xâ€™s second attempt and after the next five shooters converted, the tally stood 3-3 through four rounds. David Means put St. X up 4-3, and then Southâ€™s Nathan Ball sent his attempt low up the middle.
After initially moving left, Schwarz dove back right and lowered a firm hand behind the ball to deliver St. X its fourth straight win over a ranked opponent and 30th overall.
â€œPatrick is a gamer,â€ said Tigers coach Andy Schulten. â€œWhen he steps into a game heâ€™s all calm, all confidence. â€¦That first save he made was big time.â€
In regulation, the Tigers struck first early in the second half when Jon Otting sent a cross to the far post where Kaelon Fox volleyed the ball into the back of the net. The Dragons answered two minutes later when Christian Lister got his head on a Hunter Lewis free kick and redirected it past Schwarz.
With just under 20 minutes to play St. Xâ€™s Adam Kirsch slotted a penalty to put the Tigers back on top, but South again equalized on a set piece. From 40 yards out, Isaac Meisner drove a free kick into the 6-yard box where Trent Howard nodded the ball just under the crossbar.
South coach Kenny Burke was pleased with his sideâ€™s effort.
â€œI couldnâ€™t have asked any more from those boys,â€ he said. â€œEvery single one of the players out there gave their heart and soul to that game. Most of the time when St. X scoresâ€¦ you canâ€™t come back from it. Each time they scored we came back.â€
*Under new head coach Mark Sander, the Iroquois High School football team won its season opener for the first time since 2001. The Raiders went 0-9 last season and had just one win in their past 29 games. The 25-14 victory at Waggener last Friday was Iroquoisâ€™ first W since Oct. 29, 2010.
Contact columnist Chris Cahill at email@example.com.