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LOUISVILLE – Eleven days after ending St. Xavier’s 56-match unbeaten streak against Kentucky competition, the Collins boys’ soccer team saw its own streak ended.
Male’s 3-2 triumph over the Titans in the final of its Bulldog Cup ended Collins’ 17-match, regular-season unbeaten streak.
The Titans (9-1-2), who earlier last week had achieved the highest state ranking (third) in the program’s brief history, lost for the first time since a 2-1 setback to Bethlehem in the Bulldog Cup on Sept. 18, 2012.
The Titans made Male earn it, though, as they rallied from an early 2-0 deficit to tie the score. Kaleb Bayse’s team-leading 25th goal, with 12 minutes, 21 seconds to play, was the difference in the battle of Top 10 teams (the Bulldogs came in sixth in the latest Kentucky High School Soccer Coaches Association rankings).
“We had a lot of chances, [but] we just couldn’t finish,” Collins Coach Scott Cress said. “They didn’t have as many chances as we did, they just finished theirs. I don’t believe in the theory that a loss is necessarily ever good, but sometimes you need one to tell you that you really need to start doing something, and we really need to start finishing.”
Male (13-2-2) looked like it might finish off the Titans early with two goals in the first 14:11. The first was a penalty kick by Campbell Morris in the 12th minute. The second was by Bayse 2:31 later.
That prompted Cress to move senior standout Chris Shuck from defense to the midfield.
“I took the best player on the field and put him in a position he could do something,” Cress said.
The move paid dividends almost immediately, as sophomore Gentry Gaither scored just 53 seconds after Bayse. Shuck, a University of Evansville recruit, got the equalizer 12:50 later.
The match remained deadlocked until the 68th minute, when Morris drove down the sideline and up the end line before feeding Bayse in front of the net for the go-ahead goal.
Collins played the match without senior midfielder Jack Oakey, whom Cress sat as a precaution after he tweaked an ankle in the Titans’ 1-0 triumph over 18th-ranked Christian Academy of Louisville on Saturday morning.
“That hurt our middle. They were able to attack us through there,” said Cress, whose team beat DeSales, 2-1, on Thursday night in the Bulldog Cup.
Collins had two chances to tie in the final 10 minutes, but Ryan Metcalf’s shot went wide right, and Mark Lanham’s free kick (after Morris received a red card for a foul on Jeff Cook), with 21.6 seconds to play, failed to be converted.
“They’re a good team. I think we outplayed them. I know we could beat them. They finished it. We didn’t,” Cress said. “We’ve just got to learn to put it in the net.”
The Titans next host Franklin County at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
Male 3, Collins 2
CHS goals:Gentry Gaither 1, Chris Shuck 1.