LEXINGTON – The South Warren boys’ soccer team’s quest for the program’s first state title came to a heartbreaking end with a 1-0 loss to St. Xavier in Saturday’s championship game at Henry Clay High School.

South Warren (16-2-1) went toe-to-toe with the No. 1-ranked team in the state, but couldn’t answer the Tigers’ lone goal early in the second half. St. Xavier claimed its 15th state title and third in four years.

“It’s always hard to lose your last game, but we were the last two teams left in the state,” South Warren coach Tom Alexander said. “Sometimes this game is cruel and we weren’t on the good end of it tonight. We were on the good end of it Thursday and we weren’t on the good end of it tonight.”

Coming off an emotional win over Ryle that went to penalty kicks in Thursday’s semifinal, the Spartans were able to withstand an early push by St. Xavier. The Tigers were able to control possession, especially in the early moments, and outshot South Warren 3-2, although both teams had one shot on goal each.

South Warren’s best chance came in the 30th minute when Anthony Cano’s shot was just wide.

“I told them that they were going to put a lot of pressure on us and I told them that we were going to be put under a lot of pressure on a different level than what we have seen before,” Alexander said. “That’s what they did. The first half we kind of struggled with their pressure and pace of the play, but the second half I thought we settled down.”

The Spartans came out aggressive in the second half, with several great scoring chances.

South Warren had four attempts in the box during the first seven minutes of the second half, including a shot by Kyosuke Uchida that hit the post and a shot that St. X nearly put in its own goal but was able to clear at the line.

“It would have changed the whole game,” said Cano, a senior midfielder. “I think we would have got going. I think one goal for our team, it gets us fired up and we keep going.”

After surviving South Warren’s surge, St. Xavier finally broke through on a corner kick – with Agustin Gonzalez’s kick setting up a header by Sulli Meyer.

South Warren had one great chance in the 73rd minute, but Cano’s shot hit the post.

“We just got unlucky on the set piece and unlucky on a bunch of shots that we missed,” senior defender Alex Ortiz said. “That’s just how it falls sometimes.”

St. Xavier finished with 11 shots, five on goal, while South Warren had eight shots, four on goal.

Tayshaun Jones had four saves for the Spartans.

Cano, David Brown and Eldin Veldic were named to the all-tournament team.

Despite the setback, Alexander said his team should take pride in being part of the historic run to Saturday’s title tilt.

“Like I said, sometimes the game is cruel and it doesn’t always work out in our favor,” Alexander said. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t our night. I’m proud of the boys. They proved that they belonged at this stage and they proved they belong at this level.”{&end}

– Follow prep sports reporter Micheal Compton on Twitter @mcompton428 or visit bgdailynews.com.

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