Nick Chaney scored twice for the Irish, who advanced to the Div. III district final.
By BILL SULLIVAN
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
STRUTHERS -- If he wasn't coaching the Ursuline High boys soccer team, Harry Leith could always get a job as a fortune teller.
Before Monday's Division III district semifinal against Badger, Leith told his staff he felt the Irish would defeat the Braves 5-1.
Final score: Ursuline 5, Badger 1.
"I just felt it would be that way," the first-year coach laughed.
What Leith couldn't foresee was that the Irish would be called for being offsides 25 times.
Many teams play the entire season without that many infractions.
Sensing that the second-seeded Braves would have a difficult time playing even with the speedy Irish, Badger coach Karl Martin gambled with his defense.
Martin instructed Badger (16-2) to attempt to play up on defense, thus getting the Irish attackers to be caught in an offside position.
It was a success, in part.
"We've been working on it since this summer and it's a great weapon," Martin said. "Sometimes you can get burned, too."
Ursuline was whistled for its ninth offsides infraction before sophomore Nick Chaney scored off a pass from junior Ryan Novotny.
Anthony Mancini hit a left-footed direct kick from 25 yards out to tie the score at 1 midway through the first half. Mancini scored 12 times this year for Badger.
Ursuline played the first part of the year missing four starters, out with various injuries. As a result the Irish were 0-4-2 after six games.
Now healthy, Ursuline has won 10 of its last 12 outings.
After Vlad Lungu gave Ursuline a 2-1 lead with a 15-yard shot from the right wing, Chaney made it 3-1 at the break.
In traffic, Chaney took a feed from Novotny about 35 yards out and found a crease in the defense.
"Every time that ball came through I just went after it," said Chaney who has 15 goals now.
"They were calling offsides so we had to watch it. When the ball came through I was just trying to get there on time. I got two goals there."
Novotny (23 goals and nine assists) and Chaney used their speed to run havoc through the Badger defense in the final 40 minutes.
Despite allowing Ursuline to score twice in the second half, Badger forced the Irish to be called for 10 offsides violations after the break.
"We enjoy playing it -- it adds a dimension to our defense," Martin said.
"Sometimes we don't match up as well against a team speed-wise or size-wise. It's one of those things you can use to counter that."
Senior Chris DePaolo found Novotny open for the fourth Irish goal and sophomore Corey Mihaly scored unassisted with 13 minutes to go for the unseeded Irish (10-6-2).
"They played a good offside game; they had a nice offsides trap," Leith said.
"We controlled the game," he added.