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ND routs Central, clinches SEMO Conference
The Bulldogs improved to 6-0 in the conference with a 5-0 victory.
The Notre Dame boys soccer team celebrated senior night at home Tuesday by clinching the SEMO Conference crown with a 5-0 rout of city rival Central.
The Bulldogs improved to 18-1 and 6-0 in conference play. Notre Dame still has conference games with Central and Poplar Bluff remaining.
"We haven't won this in a while, so that's terrific," Notre Dame coach Brad Wittenborn said.
After being honored before the game, Notre Dame's seniors put their stamp on the rout once play began. Senior forward Jack Wedemeier assisted on two first-half goals and scored twice in the second half.
Senior midfielder Richard Marquart scored in the opening half, and seniors Zach Capriola and Abe Dirnberger added assists.
"We have some seniors that don't always get a lot of minutes that played well tonight," Wittenborn said. "J.P. Thompson got the start tonight and played well, played within himself. Brett Heischmidt in the backfield played a couple of great balls. We have guys that normally don't get their name in the paper scoring goals that are playing great ball for us."
Despite controlling the play for the first half, Notre Dame was kept off the scoring column for much of the opening 40 minutes. Many of the early problems for the Bulldogs came from offside calls.
With about 6 minutes, 20 seconds left in the opening half, Ty Williams was able to stay onside, took a through ball from Wedemeier and beat Central goalie Clayton Uptain for a 1-0 lead.
A few minutes later, Marquart scored on a deflection off Wedemeier's free-kick for a 2-0 halftime lead.
"I think Central played hard, and we were a little too keyed up to start the game," Wittenborn said. "I told the kids at halftime, I thought we had 437 offsides that first half. That might be a slight exaggeration. I thought we settled in more as the game went on."
Uptain, playing in his first game since being injured against Jackson in a Sept. 19 game, had to make several tough saves in the opening half. The Tigers seemed to be a step behind the Bulldogs on nearly every ball.
"Too much speed, too much skill and they play really well as a team," Central coach Tom Doyle said of Notre Dame. "I asked our kids at halftime -- disregarding the score -- who won the first half, and our kids admitted they did."
Wedemeier widened the lead early in the second half off a corner kick. Capriola played the ball across the field, and Wedemeier settled the ball and put a low shot into the corner.
The final two goals came within a minute of each other. Williams scored from Dirnberger with 13 minutes left, and then Wedemeier took a perfect cross from Williams for the final goal a minute later.
Ryan Bass was in net for the shutout.
"We lost 10 good seniors last year so I really didn't anticipate as good as a record as we have right now," Wittenborn said. "One of the things that we've never had is this many guys on the field at the same time that can score against good defenders consistently. I think that's one of the biggest problems for a team playing us."
Central will have to lick its wounds and regroup in a hurry as rival Jackson awaits on Thursday. The Tigers tied the Indians in the first contest, and Thursday's game at Jackson could go a long way in deciding district seeds.
"The one thing about it is this hurts in looking for the conference," Doyle said, "but it's not as important as the next one."
JV -- Notre Dame won 4-0.