Resilient CBC Triumphs at State Soccer Final

Lisa Johnston |
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The Christian Brothers College High School soccer team has been resilient all year, and the Class 4 state championship game Nov. 12 was no exception. Down 1-0 with 10:47 left in the game and facing an energized Rockhurst High School team, CBC took advantage of a penalty just outside the box in its opponents' zone and tied the game on a shot by Conner Lonero with an assist by Bryce Starzyk.

The Cadets stayed resilient through two overtime periods and the first round of penalty kicks, which ended at 3-3. The sudden death round began with Rockhurst's Mitchell Roberts missing high over the goal. Lonero took advantage, putting his shot past sure-handed Rockhurst goalie Nicholas Moyer for the win.

Players jumped for joy, and CBC's student cheering section erupted, then chanted "Ole, Ole, Ole" in jubilation.

CBC coach Terry Michler was stunned afterward. "I'm overwhelmed. It's the most emotion I've felt after a championship," he said. The win was CBC's ninth state title, eight of them coached by Michler, who is 943-221 in his career, all at CBC. CBC last won a title in 2012.

Though stunned, Michler wasn't surprised, because he told his team at halftime that they were going to win. "We've found ways to win all year," he said.

"What a game," the coach said, adding that he told Rockhurst Coach Chris Lawson two heavyweights played the game and both deserved the championship.

Lonero slipped out of the top five players for the shootout after missing his attempt in CBC's regular season loss to Rockhurst on Oct. 15. Michler praised the star player, noting that "he took over the game" with his energy and skill as the game progressed.

Meyer said he is confident in his abilities on penalty kicks. "I knew we were going to win," he said. "There's nothing better than being a state champion right now."

The team lost four of five games prior to the districts after losing only twice previously.

Sam Leach, a talented force at midfield whose speed, grit and ballhandling skills enable him to outmaneuver is opponents, said after the team's semifinal win that "once district came around we got more focused and started playing good. We were just more determined to get wins, and we've been doing that."

The team has grown close, especially its senior starters who have been playing together a long time, Leach said.

He started playing soccer at age 4 at Ascension in Chesterfield, then moved on to select soccer with Scott Gallagher. He was hooked on the sport from the beginning. "I had two older brothers who played, and I just followed their footsteps. I love playing and especially love playing for CBC," he said.

His team strives for sportsmanship while playing as hard as they can, he said.

CBC coach Terry Michler demonstrated sportsmanship after the semifinal win. He approached some Francis Howell supporters and praised their team, then engaged them in a short conversation. "Those kids put everything they had into it, those coaches did a great job preparing them," he said. "It's all about sportsmanship. These are high school kids, they're not professionals. They all come from the same backrounds and all play for the same reasons."

He also praised the student body that comes to support his team. "They have some leaders that really promote the spirit in the school. It's huge."

This year, he said, the players were a good group who support each other. "They can play at a high level, and there's a lot of school on the team. And they weathered some storms. They were able to regroup. That makes it special. They work hard and play together well."

He uses the word "belief" with his players, teaching them to believe in themselves, their roles and the people they're with. "You gotta believe there's a purpose in what you're doing. It's a game, but it's also preparing these kids for life beyond sports. You gotta be humble, understanding and appreciative. All that translates into your faith and belief."

In the semifinal game, with 13:20 left, CBC's Nate Temm had a split second get a shot through a small clearing in the Francis Howell North defense, which had been right on the spot all game. He didn't hesitate, made a powerful boot and the ball shot through to the back of the netting behind the goal. The goal gave his team a 1-0 win.

CBC won its district with a 1-0 victory in overtime against De Smet Jesuit High School. CBC began its playoff run by defeating Pattonville 3-0 in sectionals with goals from Brendan Hennessy, Adam Jones and Tyler McAllister. CBC defeated St. Louis University High School in overtime 2-1 Nov. 5 to reach the semifnals. Sam Leach had the game-tying goal and Nick Dempster scored the winner.

Michler's team has a record of (24-6-2) and has been a defensive force all year, piling up double digits in shutouts and getting stellar play from goalie Cameron Meyer.

In Class 2, Duchesne advanced to sectionals. 

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