Mehlville, Oakville go head to head this week in district soccer tourney

By Stephen Glover

For the past three seasons, the Mehlville Senior High School boys’ soccer team has been eliminated in the district tournament at the hands of its longtime rival, Oakville.

The Panthers (15-6-1, 3-3-1 Suburban West) hope that changes this week as they were scheduled to face Oakville (14-10, 6-2 Suburban South) in the district semifinal Wednesday — after the Call went to press — at Lindbergh High School.

Mehlville head coach Scott Jackson looks forward to another tough match with the Tigers.

“We’re kind of happy with that draw actually,” Jackson told the Call. “I think that our kids are going to be hungry. They’re out to prove something this year.”

The Panthers are led by the trio of senior forward Ryan Burke (15 goals, 5 assists), junior midfielder Denaldin Hamzagic (13 goals, 9 assists) and senior forward Jon Klein (12 goals, 2 assists).

Senior goalkeeper Jake Kittrell has been nothing less than solid this season in the net for the Panthers with a record of 15-5-1 and a 0.95 goals-against average.

“When they (Mehlville) play us, they certainly come ready to play,” Oakville head coach Dave Robben told the Call. “Their motivation goes all the way back to the preseason. It’s a good traditional rivalry that goes back for years.”

The defending district champions probably will pose Mehlville’s toughest test of the season with senior midfielder Brett Williams (12 goals, 3 assists) and senior forward Gary Robidoux (9 goals, 8 assists) providing a good part of the offensive firepower this season.

At times, the Tigers have struggled this season, yet it was a 2-1 loss to Edwardsville that Robben believes was the turning point of the season for Oakville.

Since then, Oakville strung together a four-game winning streak before losing to nationally ranked Chaminade last Wednesday 3-0.

“The Edwardsville game is really where things turned around for us,” Robben said. “The kids really showed some heart and courage. I think that this team is really starting to come together at the right time.”

The winner of the Oakville vs. Mehlville game will play either Lindbergh, St. Mary’s or Webster Groves in the championship game at 7 p.m. Friday. All of the district games will be played at Lindbergh High School, 4900 S. Lindbergh Blvd.