A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Highlands boys soccer team remains unbeaten with 4-1 comeback victory over CovCath

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

For the first time this season, the Highlands boys soccer team had to come from behind to win a game and the Bluebirds did it against one of their biggest rivals.

After giving up a goal in the first two minutes, Highlands buckled down and beat Covington Catholic, 4-1, on Tuesday at Tower Park to extend their unbeaten record to 11-0-1.

Highlands forward Luke Schweitzer, right, battles with a CovCath defender to maintain control of the ball. (Photo by Victor Matos)

“It was a little bit of an unfamiliar feeling,” Highlands coach Chad Niedert said of falling behind early. “But, at the end of  day, we had plenty of time to react to it and our guys responded really well, so I’m proud of that.”

The winning margin in Tuesday’s game was a bit surprising. Over the last three years, CovCath and Highlands played each other five times. Three of those games were decided by one goal and the other two came down to a penalty kick shootout.

But the Bluebirds have a special team this year with 16 seniors providing experienced leadership and depth. And they pulled together to get their first comeback win of the season.

“We have this team philosophy where it’s all about what we’re going to get done and not about any individual stuff,” Niedert said. “It’s always been team first for this group.”

CovCath junior midfielder Jack Stava scored the game’s first goal with 38:21 left in the first half. But that lead lasted less than eight minutes before Highlands senior forward Luke Schweitzer got the equalizer with a left-footed kick to the back post.

“All I am is left-footed,” Schweitzer said. “I took it around the defender, saw the keeper come up and just hit it to the back post.”

CovCath senior defensive back Ben Wessels, No. 21, rises above a pack of players to deflect the ball with a header. (Photo by Victor Matos)

Highlands took a 2-1 lead on another left-footed goal by senior midfielder Carter Holmes. He received a pass into the middle, touched the ball to the left and drilled it into the back of the net.

The Bluebirds protected the lead with well organized defensive play that kept CovCath from mounting effective scoring attacks. The Colonels did get a few more shots on goal, but none of them got past Highlands senior goalkeeper Will Burnham.

“That’s kind of been our pride and joy,” said coach Niedert. “We’ve had five goals scored against us all year and this is our 12th game. To only give up five goals against the competition we’re facing is saying a lot about this team moving forward when games get tight.”

With less than six minutes remaining in the first half, Highlands sophomore Max Farris scored off an assist by junior Porter Hedenberg to put their team ahead, 3-1, at the break. The score remained the same until Schweitzer got his second goal on a left-footed shot from outside the penalty area with 5:58 left on the clock.

Schweitzer said the 16 seniors on the Highlands’ roster came up through the program together. Their goal is to win the team’s first 9th Region championship since 2013 and make a run at the state title.

“We’ve always been looking toward our senior year and how we’re going to win state, and we’re off to a great start to do it,” Schweitzer said.

“The chemistry is insane on this team,” he added. “We have a few juniors and sophomores, but we’re all close. It’s like a brotherhood. We hold each other accountable.”

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