Kettering Alter shocks Columbus DeSales in state soccer semis

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Alter 1, DeSales 0
Facing a Columbus DeSales team ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 22 in the nation, Kettering Alter didn’t get much love entering the Division II boys soccer state semifinals Tuesday. But during the game Alter did get a kiss. The Knights stunned the Stallions with a 1-0 win when Timothy Rieser’s shot glanced off the far post and into the net with 18:15 left to play at Upper Arlington’s Mary Moorehead Memorial Stadium.


By Greg Billing

UPPER ARLINGTON — Facing a Columbus St. Francis DeSales soccer team
ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 22 in the nation, Kettering Alter
understandably didn’t get much love entering the Division II state
semifinals on Tuesday.

But during the game Alter did get a kiss.

The Knights stunned the Stallions — and the soccer community — with a 1-0 win when Timothy Rieser’s shot glanced off the far post and
into the net with 18:15 left to play at Upper Arlington’s Mary
Moorehead Memorial Stadium. The goal was the first allowed by DeSales
in the postseason and snapped a streak of eight straight shut outs.

“Hey, that’s a kiss off the post,” Rieser said with a smile about
the fortunate bounce. “I knew that was going in right when I hit it.”

The win avenged a pair of state semifinal losses to DeSales (1997
& 2002). The trend of meeting every five years in the semifinals
continued again in 2007. But this time the outcome didn’t, much to the
relief of Alter coach Bob Ellis.

“This is a mighty fine team we just beat,” Ellis said. “It was a
tremendous accomplishment should we be able to beat them and somehow,
someway we found a way to score.”

Both Alter (18-2-2) and DeSales (19-2-1) had chances Tuesday. Midway
through the first half, Alter’s Nick Royer shot far post but DeSales
keeper Byron Regester got a hand on it. DeSales’ spark-plug Brandon
Fishking controlled the ball after it bounced past an Alter defender,
but his rip flew just past the far post 10 minutes before the half. Six
minutes later, Fishking stole the ball at midfield and passed to Nick
Kellog. His shot from about 8-yards out was deflected by Alter keeper
Matt Dorow.

With few chances in the second half, the game winner started at
midfield. Alter’s Danny McCarthy won the ball at midfield, dribbled and
passed to Royer. Royer dished to Rieser, whose one-touch shot from
about 15-yards out went past a diving Regester and off the post.

“In practice I wasn’t really making any. Here, one-time finish,”
Rieser said. “I was just playing the game. Putting everything on the
field.”

The Knights, who ended up No. 5 in the state coaches poll, hope they
kept a little for Saturday, too. Alter plays Cuyahoga Valley Christian
Academy at 11 a.m. Saturday at Columbus Crew Stadium for the D-II
title. CVCA (17-1-3) beat Napoleon 3-0 in Tuesday’s other semifinal.
Alter, currently tied with North Olmsted with a state-record four
titles, goes for No. 5 in its eighth state finals appearance. CVCA,
which won the 2004 title, has reached the final game three times in the
past seven seasons.

“We don’t want to be happy just getting there,” said Ellis, whose
team lost in last year’s title game 2-0 to Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit.
“I’ve been (in the state semis) 10 times. This year, this is just
incredible what these boys have done.”

The Knights lost 11 seniors off last year’s team and rebuilt the
defense, with the exception of Dorow. Four sophomores start for a
Knights’ team that Ellis thought might go .500. Instead, the Knights
won their 12th straight game and gave a Stallions’ team that had
outscored its opponents 87-10 its first shut out.

The 1-0 lead also put pressure on Dorow to keep it that way. The
senior keeper who has allowed just eight goals and posted 11 shutouts
was up to the challenge.

“I looked at the clock and I said we’ve got to lock it down,” said
Dorow. “It puts a lot of pressure on you. If you give up one you know
you’re tied still but you let your team down.”

“I never assumed the only game of the year where we would get shut
out would be this one,” said DeSales coach Domenic Romanelli. “I’m
surprised at that, let’s put it that way. This is no disrespect to
Alter. I thought we matched up well.”

“You always talk about that first goal is going to be a difference,”
Romanelli said. “When it did happen it kind of shell-shocked me. I
didn’t make the right changes that we should have made and we should
have pulled up sooner.”

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