The last time Charleston Catholic walked off Andrew Jordan Field at Trace Fork, the Fighting Irish were crowned Class AA-A state champions for the fourth straight year.
After Catholic exited Trace Fork on Thursday night with a 4-4 tie against Oak Hill in front of a vocal crowd of about 200, there was a different vibe in the early autumn air.
It extended the Irish unbeaten streak to 58 games. Catholic's last loss was a 7-4 setback at Parkersburg on Oct. 12, 2010. Since then, the Irish won the last five games of the 2010 season, including their second of four straight Class AA-A state titles. Catholic has had four ties and finished with identical 23-0-2 records the past two seasons.
"It does feel a little less rewarding, but you've go to work on it every year,'' said Catholic sophomore Joey Trupo, whose team lost three of its top four goal scorers and starting keeper from a year ago, in addition to breaking in a new coach this year.
"We don't like these results. It's not living up to our standards. We're just going to practice and get better. That's all we can do. We're getting it together. We saw some weak spots, but we've got to keep getting better. There's no worries at all.''
Trupo gave Class A Catholic a 3-2 lead at halftime with his second goal of the opening half and everything seemed on track. After all, the Irish (2-0-1) were playing their first game in a week and it seemed like they just needed to shake off a little rust.
The Class AAA Red Devils (5-0-1), though, overcame a 2-0 early deficit and seized momentum in the second half from the outset as Joel Bracken netted a goal to knot it up at 3-all less than two minutes in.
Anthony Cipollone answered with his second goal to put Catholic ahead 4-3 on an unassisted tally with 10:25 to go after gathering Trupo's deflection off Oak Hill keeper Brett Garris.
Undaunted, Oak Hill's Bracken tied it up for the final time at 4 on a sliding goal at the right post.
The Red Devils missed a couple of late opportunities as Catholic sophomore keeper Hayden McCarty, who replaced junior Patrick Kline in the second half, came out of position as a ball went bounding in front of the goal.