The Irish made memories – and they made a serious postseason run, too.
That made the 2017 season successful for the Cathedral High School boys soccer program, and it made it one Head Coach Whitey Kapsalis said everyone involved will remember.
“We just came together, and I was so proud of how we finished,” Kapsalis said. “I certainly thought we could have gone further, but we were so satisfied with the way the boys put it all together and got after it in that final stretch.”
The Irish, long one of the more successful programs in Central Indiana, won sectional and city titles in 2017. Those were two highlight moments in Kapsalis’ first season as the Irish’s coach.
“They embraced it from Day One,” Kapsalis said of the players in his first season. “The way they worked together to reach a common goal really exceeded expectations. They went above and beyond what would have been expected. They exceeded expectations on and off the field. Just an incredible group of guys.”
The Irish, after opening with a 5-5-2 record, finished the season 13-7-2 after a 2-1 season-ending loss to Greenfield Central in the October 14 regional round.
The Irish’s Class 3A, Section 11 title was their ninth sectional title in program history, and their first since Class 2A sectional titles in 2012, 2013 and 2014. This was the first season of Class 3A competition in soccer in Indiana.
The Irish won the sectional final with a 3-0 victory over Franklin Central at Arsenal Tech on October 7.
“We were in tournament mode from the opening round of the city tournament,” Kapsalis said. “It’s survive and advance. The neat thing about it was watching the belief and the confidence in each other grow throughout the journey.”
The Irish advanced to the sectional final with a 1-0 victory over Lawrence Central in the semifinal, a game decided on senior Trey Kapsalis’ penalty kick.
“The boys were hungry,” Kapsalis said. “They were playing together and they were confident. That [winning the sectional] was a goal we had set, and we weren’t sure if we could attain it. They did it with flying colors. The sectional championship was fantastic. It really was.”
The Irish beat Warren Central 3-2 in the first round of the sectional tournament, rallying from a 2-0 deficit.
“That may have been the biggest sign of our progress,” Kapsalis said of the come-from-behind victory. “One of the challenges we faced all year was when we’d get down early we had trouble believing we could get back into it. We worked on it all year, and that game put us over the top in terms of that obstacle. The way they responded to that was probably the biggest statement of the year internally.”
The city title was memorable, too, with the Irish winning it for the first time since 2012. Cathedral dominated the event in late September, winning the four games by a combined 17-1. The Irish beat second-seeded Covenant Christian, 2-1, in the semifinal and beat top-seeded Cardinal Ritter by a score of 4-1 in the city title game.
Junior Jacob Schneider scored twice for the Irish in the city title game, with senior defender/midfielder Clay Troyer and Kapsalis scoring once each.
“That was a really big moment,” Kapsalis said. “This particularly group of seniors never been part of a city championship, so it was certainly one of the goals in the preseason we had set. It was a big accomplishment.”
Kapsalis called the Irish senior class a special group on and off the field. Not only did the group provide leadership in all areas, it came together in the first season under a new head coach and helped form the foundation for the program’s future.
“They helped shape the culture and lay some groundwork for the future of Cathedral soccer,” Kapsalis said. “Collectively, they were a special group. I wish I would have coached them four years. We’ll really miss them.”
Sixteen members of the Irish made Academic All-State, with the core of the team being a group seniors that included Troyer, forward/midfielder Jared Kaiser, midfielder Matt Schepers and Kapsalis. Troyer, Kaiser and Kapsalis served as team captains, with six other seniors helping form the team’s leadership core.
Kaiser and Kapsalis were named Indiana Soccer Coaches Association All-District 3.
Kaiser had 12 goals and 11 assists for the Irish, with Kapsalis adding 12 goals and 12 assists and junior John Schneider adding seven goals.
Junior keeper Nik Kolosso also was key throughout the postseason and regular season.
“I feel good moving forward, the seniors get a lot of credit for that,” Kapsalis said. “We’ve got a lot to build on. There were some game victories, moral victories and cultural victories throughout this entire journey that we will build on moving forward.
“I told the seniors the sign of a great human being is to leave something better than the way you found it. They certainly left a mark in that regard.”