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Monday, October 5, 2009
Aquinas finds the winning touch

By Sheldon Shealer

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. -- A few seconds of brilliance led St. Thomas Aquinas (Overland Park, Kan.) to its third tournament title this fall, keeping the boys' team very much in the national title chase.

Kyle Whigham's highlight-reel finish lifted the Saints to a 1-0 victory over Quincy (Ill.) on Saturday at SIU-Edwardsville's Korte Stadium.

TBD by editorial
St. Thomas Aquinas players celebrate their third tournament title of the season.
In the other elite bracket final, Christian Brothers (St. Louis, Mo.) defeated Marquette Jesuit (Milwaukee) 2-0. That bracket also saw the end of Reitz Memorial's national-best 65-match undefeated run. After falling to Marquette on penalty kicks in the semifinals, Reitz Memorial lost the consolation match to Zionsville (Ind.) in a rematch of last year's Indiana state final.

Christian Brothers and St. Thomas Aquinas were already Top 20 teams entering the event, and will move up following this past weekend's results. Saturday's title wins also marked the second year these perennial powers have won bracket championships at the event.

For St. Thomas Aquinas, the winning play started when Chris Miller settled the ball and played it wide to Emilio Quezada. The junior midfielder made a strong run toward the flag before sending a pass into the penalty box back to Miller. Miller's pass ended up on the foot of Whigham, who redirected it -- with help of a deflection --past the Quincy keeper.

Click here to watch the goal.

St. Thomas Aquinas entered the weekend ranked No. 7 in the ESPN RISE FAB 50, and the trio of shutout wins -- two against FAB 50-ranked programs -- will leave this team among the top five.

"We struggle to score from the field, but we don't give up many goals," Aquinas coach Craig Ewing said. "It was a nice goal by Kyle Whigham. He seems to do well at this tournament."

Earlier this season, Aquinas won the Bronco Classic and Top Dawg tournament titles.

In the CBC final, Vic Lombardo and Jake Bond scored three minutes apart to lift Christian Brothers past Marquette. CBC is now 8-1 all-time at the Gateway City Soccer Classic, marking the best win-loss percentage of any participant that has competed in multiple years.

NEW No. 1s: Last week's boys' soccer No. 1 McDonogh (Owings Mills, Md.) suffered its first league loss in three seasons, a result that will knock it from the top spot. Meanwhile, the top-ranked girls' soccer programs were held to very telling draws last week, which will cause a change at the top as well.

No. 1 Downingtown West (Downingtown, Pa.) tied Pennington Prep (Pennington, Pa.) 3-3 in last week's regional showdown. Add in a tie by Archbishop Spalding (Severn, Md.), and the new girls No. 1 is clearly Paul VI (Haddon Township, N.J.).

Why is Paul VI clearly No. 1?

Follow this string of results: If Downingtown West and Pennington Prep are on the same level, Pennington lost to top-10-ranked McDonogh (Owings Mills, Md.). Spalding defeated McDonogh. However, Spalding was held to a draw by Good Counsel (Olney, Md.), a team that Paul VI (N.J.) defeated 3-0 the previous week. Therefore, there's little argument that Paul VI, New Jersey's top-ranked team by The Star-Ledger, has earned the chance to be the nation's No. 1 team.

On the boys' side, McDonogh's loss is not too damning since it will have a chance for revenge in the postseason. But McDonogh's loss will turn the FAB 50 No. 1 ranking over to St. Ignatius (Cleveland), a program that won a FAB 50 national title five years ago.

Sheldon Shealer covers youth soccer for He can be reached at