Evans boys soccer coach Brian Killips told his team not to take Whitewater lightly.
Evans' Patrick Burke (5) and Whitewater's Brian Forero fight for possession of the ball during the second half at Evans High School. Evans' coach had told his team not to overlook Whitewater, a team made up of only freshmen and sophomores. Evans listened and won.
Photo by Chris Thelen
Even though Whitewater - which is in its second year of operation - had only freshman and sophomores, Killips knew they would be a difficult opponent.
"Sure, they were a young team," Killips said. "But they are from Fayette County, where all of the soccer programs are strong. They tied McIntosh, which is ranked No. 1, earlier in the season. We knew they would be a handful."
Senior goalkeeper Joey Ralph had his own motivation.
"We didn't want to get beat by a bunch of freshmen and sophomores," he said.
The ninth- ranked Knights (13-5-1) controlled the pace for much of Thursday's game and came away with a 2-0 win over visiting Whitewater in the first round of the Class AAAA state playoffs.
Evans plays host to Eagle's Landing tonight at 7:30 p.m.
"We are playing real good soccer right now," Ralph said. "We just want to take one game at a time and keep winning."
Knights defender Chad Strader was one of the stars, making two saves - one in each half - to prevent goals and preserve a 1-0 lead for most of the game.
Late in the first half, Ralph went for a ball that Daniel Higginbotham got past him, and the Wildcat midfielder had an open net. Strader ran in and deflected the shot away with his right foot.
Evans' Todd Strader, left, moves the ball downfield with pressure from Whitewater's Kyle Adams during the first half.
Photo by Chris Thelen
He made a similar save in the second half with his head after Ralph left the net to pursue a crossing pass.
"That was a huge play for us, I guess two huge plays," Killips said. "If Chad doesn't make those saves, we are tied or behind and it is an entirely different game."
Strader said he felt comfortable in the situation and said he has been saved by Ralph many times this season.
"I just tried to anticipate where he was going and made a good play," he said.
"The big thing is getting the win," he said.
Evans added insurance on a late goal from Max Belchyk to make the score 2-0.
Evans jumped out to an early 1-0 lead midway through the first half on a rebound header by Sam Giovino, the Knights' leading scorer.
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