St. Dominic’s Jacques Ouellette and Oak Hill’s Maxwell Hall slide for the ball during Saturday’s soccer game at Oak Hill. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

WALES — Senior goalie Cole Whitten knows he can get by with a lot of help from his friends on defense.

Whitten spent most of his morning warding off the No. 9 St. Dom’s Saints before the eighth-ranked Oak Hill Raiders glided off with a 5-1 victory in a Class C south boys soccer preliminary round game Saturday.

St. Dominic’s Tyler Stewart chases the ball with Oak Hill’s Brady Bangs on his heels during Saturday’s soccer game at Oak Hill. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

The Raiders (10-5) move on to the quarterfinals where they will face No. 1 Hall-Dale (13-0-1) on Wednesday.

St. Dom’s kept hammering away, but with his formidable defense by his side, Whitten kept turning away the persistent Saints.

“They were coming out pretty strong, but my two middle back defenders, Max Hill and Colby Leighton, they were stopping all those shots from getting to me,” Whitten said. “That helped out a lot.

“My defense is my best friends out there. I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Whitten said Saturday’s win is an example of the improvement the Raiders have made this season.

“We are just getting stronger,” he said. “We started out in the season against some tough teams, I feel like we showed ourselves and it is all paying off now.”

Junior Riley Worth put the Raiders on the scoreboard late in the first half with goal thanks to a pass from Levi Sturtevant. Senior Caleb Leighton punched in an unassisted goal before Oak Hill headed into the halftime break with a 2-0 lead.

St. Dominic’s Leandro Naous and Oak Hill’s Maxwell Hall struggle for control of the ball during Saturday’s soccer game at Oak Hill. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

But the Saints’ never-quit attitude forced the Raiders to work for the next three goals. Senior Brady Bangs scored on a Leighton assist to hand the Raiders a three-goal lead at 31:42.

“So we stayed consistent with what we practiced all season —  ball movement, possession, smart play, capitalizing on our speed and their positioning,” Oak Hill coach Bill Worth said. “Our kids just played consistent and came through with the right plays when they needed to.

“They had good possession in the and they had absolutely strong counter strikes. Their shots on net, I think they had three off the post. That game could have easily gone the other way.  They had strong forwards that kept pounding away at our defense and the ball pinged around and we got lucky.”

St. Dom’s finally answered with a goal when Jacques Ouellette scored at 29:26.

Oak Hill’s Nico Soucy and St. Dominic’s Lucas Pushard scramble to locate the ball during Saturday’s soccer game at Oak Hill. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

The Raiders followed up with another two goals. Nico Soucy was awarded a penalty kick after the Saints were called for a handball infraction. Soucy drilled it past Saints goalie Matthew Gosselin and into the left corner of the net for a goal.

Riley Worth topped off the Saints’ four-goal lead with his second score goal of the game, with the assist going to Caleb Valliere.

“We had a lot of opportunities, but we just couldn’t seem to find the back of the net today,” St. Dom’s coach Joshua Shaw said. “We never stop, we never quit. I know they didn’t get the result even with the hard work, but these boys never quit. 

“I am proud to coach them this year and I am looking forward to years to come.”

St. Dominic’s Jacques Oulette blasts the ball past Oak Hill’s Cole Whitten during Saturday’s soccer game at Oak Hill. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

St. Dominic’s Leandro Naous and Oak Hill’s Silas Dumont chase the ball down the field during Saturday’s soccer game at Oak Hill. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

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