'22 Boys Postseason #9 (11-18) Final Four Previewby Admin on 11/18/22
Final Four Preview 11-17-22
The final weekend of soccer for 2022 is here with 16 teams still alive in the four classes and looking to cap their seasons with championship trophies. It’s going to be a brisk weekend (again - after last week’s chilly quarterfinals) at the World Wide Technology Soccer Park - one of the many challenges that await each team (and the fans!) this weekend. For those interested in watching from the comfort of their own home, all games will be broadcast live at https://www.mshsaa.tv/ (subscription/payment required). Tickets for each day are $10 and can be purchased online at https://www.mshsaa.org/CMSPages/Tickets.aspx.
There is a chance we could see four first-time winners this weekend, and at the bare minimum will see one first-time champ as Class 2 is full of teams without titles. Class 1 will once again have a private school champ as all four participants are private/parochial. In Class 3, the #1 and #2 teams meet in the semis as four of the top six squads advanced, while Class 4 has a who’s who of MO soccer powers, including a 13-loss team that would be the overall MO #1 if not for a half-season of forfeits due to an ineligible player.
So far, the Missouri Power Rankings have correctly picked 10 of the 12 state champions in the past three years (Guadalupe in 2019 and Jackson in 2020 were the exceptions). This year, the MPR has been correct 75% of the time (153/208). Teams with an MPR advantage are listed with (+.) next to its record. The average margin for “upset” this year has been within .25. Last year it was .31. There have been 47 MPR upsets under .50 this year, with only six above that range. The only MPR difference over .50 in the semis is the Rockhurst-Rock Bridge game that is skewed by Rock Bridge’s forfeits. In fact, RB would likely be the MPR favorite without them.
Quarter recap: Borgia jumped all over Duchesne early and cruised to a lopsided 7-0 win. Bishop DuBourg took care of Brentwood 3-0. New Covenant also cruised, topping Smithton 3-0. The only drama of Class 1 came at Maryville where the Spoofhounds led #1 Summit Christian 2-0 late in the first half before SCA cut into the lead with 20 seconds left in the half. Two more second half goals, the last on a penalty, gave the Eagles the 3-2 win.
#4 St. Francis Borgia (13-9) (+.30) vs. #10 Bishop DuBourg (14-11)
There is probably no hotter C1 team than Borgia right now. The Knights roll into the semis with a lot of confidence and a five-game winning streak that includes a 4-2 win over Bishop DuBourg Oct. 24. Maybe even more telling is the 1-0 loss to St. Dominic, a C4 semifinalist, just days prior to that Dubourg game. Borgia had lost 8-0 to St. Dominic earlier, but they seem to have found a different gear since after escaping a difficult district with 2-1 wins, the final a 2-1 penalty win over #2 Father Tolton. This is Borgia’s fourth Final Four, with its best finish a 2002 runner-up. Bishop DuBourg limped into the postseason with four straight losses, but has been solid since. This is the sixth matchup between the teams with Borgia winning the previous five. Take away the Borgia game earlier and DuBourg has only given up four other goals since October started. DuBourg does have a co-championship to its credit - all the way back when Star Wars was released (1977). This is also DuBourg’s fourth semifinal appearance.
#1 Summit Christian Academy (17-6) (+.38) vs. #6 New Covenant Academy (17-8-1)
Two newcomers to semifinal play meet up in semifinal #2. SCA rides in as the top team in C1, but the Eagles always seem to make things interesting. Case in point, one week it beats Barstow in penalties, 12 days later it loses to the same squad, 5-0. New Covenant has also been a bit unpredictable, but since it’s been win or out, the Warriors haven’t given up a goal, including a 1-0 elimination of previous #1 Laquey in the district finals.
Quarter recap: Saxony Lutheran scored in the game’s opening 10 minutes and held on for its third consecutive nail biter, topping Principia 1-0. Orchard Farm jumped out to a 2-0 lead after 21 minutes en route to eliminating Helias 3-1. Marshall also scored twice in the opening half in its 3-0 victory over School of the Osage. Excelsior Springs’ complete game ousted Barstow, 5-0.
#9 Saxony Lutheran (15-9) vs. #3 Orchard Farm (20-5) (+.45)
Saxony Lutheran keeps finding a way to win as it looks to better its only other semifinals appearance - a 4th place in 2017. The Crusaders have won seven in a row behind its defense (six shutouts in those seven matches) and opportunistic offense. Saxony may look a little out-matched in this one on paper, but a demanding schedule, including the SLUH tournament where it matched up with Chaminade and two-time champ Ft. Zumwalt South should have it prepared for the big stage. This is also a program that knows how to win, having captured seven districts in the past nine years. Orchard Farm is also in its second final four, with many of the same players from the 2020 squad that finished second. The Eagles are only in year seven as a program, but have averaged 19 wins over the past five years and are a tournament favorite after eliminating #1 Westminster Christian in the district finals. The Eagles defense has been spectacular all year - outside two matches against Ft. Zumwalt North (5-0) and Gateway Academy (7-0) OF has only given up nine goals in the run of play.
#2 Marshall (22-2-1) (+.43) vs. #7 Excelsior Springs (15-5)
Both teams earned their way to STL with convincing quarter wins. Outside of one week (back-to-back losses to Hannibal and Father Tolton late in October), the Owls are undefeated on the season and have the extra motivation to make up for the 4-0 loss to Excelsior Springs last season in the district finals. This is Marshall’s fourth semifinal appearance - finishing fourth the previous three times, the last in 2010. Excelsior Springs has made it back-to-back final fours and third in its history - having finished second in 2004 and third last season. Look for this one to be close: Marshall tied Battle 2-2, while Excelsior Springs won over Battle 3-2. Each team has the ability to score - defense will be the key here.
Quarter Recap: Webster Groves and Cape Notre Dame were tied 0-0 at half before the Statesmen’s depth wore down CND in a 4-0 win. Whitfield scored in the first OT period to propel the Warriors to a 1-0 win over Ft. Zumwalt East. Glendale was a huge favorite at Webb City, but the Cardinals had other plans, leading 1-0 midway through the second half. Webb City actually had a penalty kick saved by the Glendale GK that would’ve put it up 2-0. Instead, Glendale rallied for goals in the 63rd and 79th minute to eke out a 2-1 win. East (KC) was too much for Jefferson City, eliminating the Jays 6-0.
#1 Webster Groves (19-3-3) (+.29) vs. #2 Whitfield (18-3)
It’s not often that a team coming off a state title and a runner-up in the past two years AND one with eight titles to its name isn’t the one favored to win, but such is the case in this 1 vs. 2 semi. Whitfield finished second in 2020 in the C1 finals, then won the C2 championship last year. Based on the Championship Factor, the Warriors jumped to C3 this year, but it hasn’t slowed them much. In fact, Whitfield has won 18 of 19, losing only to Ladue, a team it beat in the district finals just one week later. Even with all of that, #1 Webster Groves has been nearly as good. The Statesmen haven’t given up a goal in the postseason and survived its biggest test when it ousted rival and fellow two-time champ Rockwood Summit in penalties in the district finals. A fun fact…this is Whitfield’s 12th semifinal appearance. The Warriors have won all 11 previous semis, but all of those were in Class 1 or 2. WG is in its fifth final four, all within the past nine years, winning two (2014,15).
#4 Glendale (24-4) (+.19) vs. #6 East (KC) (19-2-1)
This is the second match-up of the season between these two as Glendale won the first one, 1-0 at the Parkview Tournament. Glendale enters its ninth final four under Coach Jeff Rogers still looking for its first title. The Falcons finished third last season and have twice reached the championship, losing the C3 title in 2008 to Rockhurst and the 2014 title to Webster Groves. Glendale traded wins and losses to open the year 3-3 before posting a 21-1 mark since Sept. 10, the day the Falcons matched up with East. The only loss during that stretch Oct. 14 to Pembroke Hill in penalties - the second straight year the Raiders upset Glendale. East has been an offensive juggernaut most of the season - scoring 25 goals in the four postseason games alone. The Bears haven’t lost since that Glendale game, tying Blue Valley West (KS) 2-2 and winning its other 15. Back to Pembroke Hill…East beat them twice within the last few weeks, 8-1 and 4-1 so Glendale will have its work cut out. East’s scenario is similar to the 2019 Guadalupe Center squad that won class 2 in its first appearance after the top two teams in C2 (Priory and John Burroughs) battled into OT in the semis. Guadalupe stunned a worn-out Priory in the finals that year…
Quarter Recap: CBC and Lindbergh hooked up in another close one with CBC’s first half goal holding up in a 1-0 Cadet win. St. Dominic scored late to eliminate Chaminade 2-1. For the second straight year Rockhurst got a huge goal from a freshman in its 1-0 win over Kickapoo. Rock Bridge made a first-half goal stand up in a 1-0 win at Liberty North.
#6 CBC (16-9) (+.43) vs. #12 St. Dominic (18-8-2)
Normally, seeing CBC and St. Dominic in the finals wouldn’t be much of a shock to anyone who has followed MO soccer, but this is not a normal year for either squad that has combined for 15 state titles and 33 final fours. Legendary coaches Terry Michler (CBC) and Greg Koeller (St. Dominic) are quite familiar with the final four scene, but 2022 has been a challenge for both and quite frankly, neither squad was expected to get here. Even the district opener was difficult for CBC as the Cadets had to go OT to beat Priory. That started a string of four one-goal wins that propelled CBC into its first semi since 2018, the year of its last title. This will be the 16th time since 2008 these two have played, with CBC winning 12, including a 3-2 decision Sept. 29. CBC has never come to a semifinal and not won at least one game (10 1st, six runner-ups and five 3rd place finishes). St. Dominic opened 5-6-2, but has since righted the ship, losing only to then #1 DeSmet and #5 SLUH. Since then, the Crusaders have topped the latest #1 Chaminade twice and seem to be playing their best soccer of the season. Dominic has also been in a bit of a title drought - last winning C2 (when there was three classes) in 2013, it’s fifth title that started in 2004.
#3 Rockhurst 19-2-2 (+.80) vs. #20 Rock Bridge (12-13)
The final - and likely very cold - match of the day may be the most entertaining. Defending C4 champion and final four record holder (27) Rockhurst looks to repeat against the team that either was or would’ve been the state’s top-ranked squad most of the year in Rock Bridge. The Bruins had to forfeit 13 games at the end of the year due to an ineligible player (RB’s only “real” loss was to Rockwood Summit Sept. 15), but have rallied to win all four postseason games on the road since. Rockhurst hasn’t been as stingy defensively as in year’s past (eight shutouts this year compared to 16 last season), but still did what Rockhurst has done for years, which is get into the playoffs. Since 1984 the Hawklets have won a district in every year except 2011 when they lost in the district finals to Lee’s Summit West in OT. That’s 37 out of the last 38 years of being a title contender, a mark no other program even comes close to. Rock Bridge is in its 6th semifinal, losing the previous five but rallied to finish third in each of them, most recently in the 2016 semis that Rockhurst won 2-0. This is the two school’s 9th match up since 2008 with each team winning four. One potential thing to look for this year - Rock Bridge rosters 14 seniors, while Rockhurst has five.