University scored three goals in the first 22 minutes and overpowered St. Michael 4-0 Thursday in a Division III boys regional soccer playoff match.
Sophomore attacking midfielder Rider Holcomb scored the first two goals for No. 2 University (16-3-2). Holcomb cleaned up two chances and converted 8-yard shots. Senior Hunter Schwab fired a corner kick into the box on Holcomb’s first goal in the ninth minute, while sophomore Liam Moran had the assist on the second goal in the 19th minute.
Senior Nils Newhauser cleaned up a bouncing ball in the 22nd minute and fired a 5-yard shot for a 3-0 lead. Moran completed the scoring with a 5-yard shot in the 65th minute.
Defending state champion University advances to the quarterfinals and will entertain No. 7 North Vermilion next week. No. 15 St. Michael finishes 19-11-2.
“The guys did really well tonight,” University coach Chris Mitchell said. “St. Michael has a good team.”
University goalkeeper Charlie McKenzie had three saves, while St. Michael's Alex St. Cyr had seven saves. University had 14 shots on goal and St. Michael five.
“We were just under attack and couldn’t defend them all,” St. Michael coach Michael Loewe said. “We made some mistakes. Playing a team like University, you have to play mistake free. University has a good shot to go all the way at state. Their team is younger than last year, which makes it scary for the next few years.”
Loewe said St. Cyr had his best game of the season in goal. He said senior center back Dylan Hart played well on defense.
“We had five good chances close in that we didn’t finish,” Loewe said. “It also could have been a different game if we’d scored early in the second half.”
University’s starting back line of Ben Maas, Charlie Mackey, Newhauser and Schwab were formidable and pushed the ball forward.
“We have a really good attack and a lot of speed,” Mitchell said. “We have really good skilled players on the ball, and they work really well together. Our passing was good.”
Holcomb, who has 13 goals on the season, said he was glad to score two goals early.
“I was alert and basically tapped a deflected ball in on the first goal,” he said. “The second one came across the box, and I was ready. We played a smart game, and I’m excited.
“We wouldn’t be where we are without the defense. They’re very strong in the back. They hold up this team.”
St. Michael’s Timothy Brandel made a good run in the 14th minute, but his shot sailed too high. Ethan Hames had a high shot in the 45th minute.
University attempted several headers off corners or throw-ins that just missed. In the 77th minute, Holcomb fired a cross shot that Moran headed. St. Cyr made a spectacular punch save where he jumped and punched the ball over the crossbar.