Nerinx Hall Knocks off Oakville, Advances to Semifinals

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Nerinx Hall High School soccer coach Tim Champion could not have scripted his team's state quarterfinal game any better.

The Markers scored early, played hard on defense and added an insurance goal in the second half of a 2-0 victory over top-ranked Oakville on Saturday at the Billiken Sports Complex.

Nerinx Hall (16-4-3) advances to play the Columbia Hickman/Notre Dame de Sion winner in a semifinal at 8 p.m. Friday.

Defending champion Incarnate Word Academy (18-2-3) will meet Kennedy (14-6-1) in the other semifinal, at 6 p.m. The championship game is 8 p.m. Saturday.

Nerinx Hall, ranked sixth among area teams, struck early, getting a goal from sophomore Katie Hornburg on a free kick in the game's third minute.

"I think Katie's the top midfielder in the area, but she's a sophomore who hasn't gotten a lot of recognition yet," Champion said. "But she's an upper-echelon player and she really hit a great shot."

From there, the Markers focused on shutting down the high-powered Oakville attack; going into Saturday's action, the Tigers had outscored their opponents 82-3.

"We're a good defensive team with two solid goalkeepers," Champion said. "Getting the early goal obviously took off some of the pressure, and we really played a solid game from there."

Added Oakville coach Dave Robben: "Nerinx is known for its defensive play, but we still had plenty of time. For whatever reason, we never got it going in the first half.

"I thought we played better in the second half, putting together some combinations. But Nerinx really did a good job defensively."

Junior Lori Melching and sophomore Jackie Ademic split time in the shutout as midfielders Hornburg and Jenny McMaster split time marking Oakville's Kris Fosdick. Freshman Barrett Berzon and sophomore Stacie Metzger controlled play in the Marker backfield.

Midway through the second half, the Markers added to their lead as McMaster knocked in a corner kick from Hornburg.

Oakville's best scoring chance came late in the game as a free kick by Nicole Gaultney deflected off the cross bar.

"Soccer's a strange game," Robben said. "Nerinx didn't create anything from the flow of play but they made the most of their set pieces. …