|Highlands Starts Rivalry Week with Victory|
|PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands senior forward Ben Fischer (5) runs up-field against Newport Central Catholic on Tuesday.|
The big week for the Highlands Bluebirds boys soccer teams started strong.
The meeting against the Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds at Tower Park did not have its usual feel. The large crowds, especially the student sections, could not pack the stands although some stood outside the fences watching as a result of Coronavirus 2019 restrictions.
But one thing has not changed since 2015. The Bluebirds bested the Thoroughbreds, 4-0 for their ninth straight victory in the series. NewCath last beat Highlands, 2-1 on Oct. 13, 2015 in the 36th District championship game at Tower Park when the current seniors were in the seventh grade.
"In any rivalry game, it's going to be tight," said Chad Niedert, Highlands Head Coach. "We also knew prepping for them they were better than some of the teams in years past. They may not have flashy individuals. But they've got much more solid 11 players on the field. Not to take anything away from (Covington) Holy Cross, but we feel like we gave a game away (a week ago in a 2-2 tie). We have a season to reestablish ourselves. We feel we did a good job of that (Tuesday). We feel we're just getting starting."
Highlands had 14 shots to 10 for NewCath. Both teams finished with seven shots on goal. But Highlands sophomore goalkeeper Connor Mathis stopped three shots for the second shutout of the season for the Bluebirds.
"Like the coaches said, we have to take it one game at a time and focus on what's in front of us," said Ben Fischer, Highlands forward. "There was a lot of focus on certain things to work on in this game. We came through, did all of it and we think we really improved."
NewCath came into the game 3-0 having posted three 2-0 shutouts to start the season. The Thoroughbreds beat Dixie Heights, Beechwood and St. Henry.
But Highlands senior defender Hank Cook scored the first goal against NewCath this season in the first 20 minutes on a nice assist from senior forward Max Farris just one minute, 15 seconds into the game. That is Cook's first goal of the season.
"It was a short corner that came in the box and I just deflected it in," Cook said. "We did what Coach (Niedert) wanted us to do. Getting a goal in the first two, three minutes lets us take a breath, take the game as it comes to us and keep playing."
Senior right wing Austin Frazier took a corner kick from senior midfielder Brayden Gillman and scored with 7:29 left in the first half to put Highlands up 2-0. Frazier has three goals on the season and Gillman three assists.
Senior four-year starting forward Max Farris scored twice in the first 15 minutes of the second half to make the final score. Farris has four goals this season.
The next game for the Bluebirds takes place Thursday against another arch-rival. The Covington Catholic Colonels (0-0-1) come to town for an 8 p.m. battle.
St. Henry 3, Highlands 0:
The Bluebirds (3-2 overall) battled the 9th Region power Lady Crusaders (3-3) in the first game falling 30-28.
St. Henry and veteran Head Coach Maureen Kaiser played in the prestigious Louisville Volleyball Invitational Tournament at the Ohio Valley Volleyball Center on Saturday going 1-3. The Lady Crusaders lost to Lexington Henry Clay, Louisville Assumption and Louisville Sacred Heart. Assumption, Sacred Heart and Mercy have won every state championship since Notre Dame's last crown in 1994.
But Highlands could not keep up the intensity the next two, 25-14, 25-17. The Bluebirds managed to take a game from the Lady Crusaders last year.
Highlands had a .141 hitting percentage in the game recording 27 kills on 92 attempts and 14 errors. The Bluebirds also had 25 assists, one ace, 19 digs and three solo blocks.
Junior outside hitter Nicole Ossege had nine kills and junior middle blocker Lauren Buemi had seven to go with a solo block. Junior versatile hitter CC Shick had six kills and two solo blocks. Junior outside hitter Sophia Sarakatsannis had five digs to lead Highlands. Senior setters Laura Winkler and Maria Little had 13 and 12 assists respectively.
The Bluebirds return home Thursday to face Campbell County (1-5). Game time is 6:15 p.m.
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