Xavier conquers Cincinnati in Crosstown Derby

Photo courtesy of Desmond Fischer

Friday was the perfect night for one of the biggest non-conference games of the season as Xavier took on the University of Cincinnati (UC) in the Crosstown Derby at Nippert Stadium.

The Musketeers defeated the rival Bearcats by a final of 2-1 to remain unbeaten in the 2019 season.

The Musketeers got off to a roaring start as they went up 1-0 after a quick goal following a set piece. Freshman forward Karsen Henderlong rocketed in a shot from just inside the box on an assist from redshirt senior defender Ryan Bellavance. The score marked Henderlong’s second goal of the season.

The next goal for Xavier came on a fantastic play by both redshirt junior goalkeeper Matthew Rosenberg and redshirt senior Samson Sergi.

Rosenberg played a free kick in the defensive third, and the ball sliced through UC’s defense untouched. Sergi got to the ball and chipped it over the Bearcats’ goalkeeper.

“We did well to score a goal early in the game, but I thought we were pretty lethargic once we got up 2-0,” Head Coach Andy Fleming said.

The goal was Samson’s fourth tally of the season, and the 23rd of his career. He is just one goal away from breaking into the top 10 scorers in Xavier men’s soccer history. He was also named the Big East Offensive Player of the Week.

Xavier’s offside trap was effective in the first half, drawing UC offside twice in the first half and limiting the Bearcats’ movement into their attacking third.

At halftime, the score was 2-0, with Xavier comfortably in control of the game.

Coming out of the locker room, however, the Bearcats got back in the game, possessing the ball for 15 minutes to begin the second half.

Cincinnati managed three shots until it finally broke through in the 63rd minute.

The goal was scored off a corner kick that was headed in at the near post. It was the first goal Rosenberg and the Xavier defense have allowed all year.

Cincinnati managed 16 shots throughout the game against Xavier’s nine but was warded off by six saves by Rosenberg.

The defense came up big at the end of the game to preserve the win for Xavier.

“Our backline was good tonight. I thought Jacob Goodall grinded as a senior,” Fleming said. “I thought him, Grant Dumler and Taylor Crull were steady, (and) Matt Rosenberg was great commanding the team.”

Goodall was named to the College Soccer News National Team of the Week for his efforts.

Indeed, all four players played the whole 90 minutes of the game and may have been facing some fatigue by the end.

The Xavier crowd showed up to the away game, and Fleming thanked the marketing department at Xavier as well as the X-Treme fans for their support of the team so far.

“We’re lucky to get out of there,” Fleming said. “I’m a little dissapointed about not gettting a third goal. (The goal UC scored) was the first goal we’ve allowed all year … When you can win and learn lessons, that’s great.”

Following a win against its rival, Xavier faces to what could be the biggest challenge for the Musketeers this season as they travel to Lexington, Ky., to face No. 5 Kentucky today.

The Musketeers will have to play without a key rotation piece in sophomore forward Felix Boe-Tangen, who will be unavailable for the match after leaving in the first half against Cincinnati with a head injury.

Xavier returns home to the XU Soccer Complex to play Memphis on Saturday  at 7 p.m.

By Hunter Ellis | Guest Writer