Oakville soccer team on a roll; wins berth in final four on Friday

By ROBERT CHALUPNY

For the Call

The Oakville Senior High School boys’ soccer team will make its first final four appearance since 2001 after knocking off Francis Howell Central 1-0 Saturday afternoon in a classic defensive battle.

Back-and-forth action occurred throughout the game, but Oakville’s Patrick McInerney tallied the game’s lone goal midway through the first half — his fourth of the season.

Tigers head coach Dave Robben said his team just kept winning battle after battle on the play.

“Zach Klipsch kind of started the play and he played it forward, kind of (knocked) off a couple of the defenders …,” Robben said. “Then Patrick McInerney started the play and he continued to fight off the defenders … and kept winning the ball and moving in on the next phase …

“(McInerney) then broke in on the goalkeeper, then he took his time and placed it into the side netting of the goal.”

Robben told the Call it was not an easy win for the Tigers.

“We went into the game with the idea of controlling the tempo of the game and we lost the control of that because of their aggressiveness,” he said. “It was one of those games that we’ve played before, the philosophy, the attitude among the team, among the boys, when they are on the field is that we bend, but we don’t break and this afternoon was another example of that.”

Robben commended Francis Howell Central for overcoming so much adversity in the postseason. He particularly cited head coach Derek Phillips, who played for Rob-ben back in 1989 during the Tigers’ final four run.

“First of all, hats off to Howell Central and their coach Derek Phillips,” Robben said. “They have had some bad times for their injuries. They had a couple of their key players out going into the playoffs and then had lost another one in the sectional and then today. So he had to move his players around and they gave us all we could handle.

“They pressured the ball all over the field and made it difficult for us to complete passes,” he added. “We never were able to get into any kind of a passing rhythm. Essentially, we are a possession team. We like to keep the ball and sometimes they let us do that and we were able to knock it around on our end of the field. But we had no creativity off the ball … We weren’t really able to organize any kind of attacks through the midfield.”

Defense was the biggest asset in the game as the Tigers gave up very few scoring chances in the shutout.

“They pressured the ball,” Robben said. “They put us under pressure, but for the most part I think actually our keeper maybe touched the ball four times the entire game. So our defenders were able to keep them out.”

Oakville (19-7-1) will face Rock Bridge (27-3) Friday at Blue Springs South High School, and Robben said his players have their work cut out for them.

“Well, we know that they are the No. 1 team in the state,” the Oakville coach said. ” I think they made it to the final four last year, so they have playoff experience. A lot of those players are back from last year’s team.

“You can’t say enough about a team that does have playoff experience. So we know going in they are going to be a formidable opponent.”