Small changes work in Cats' win over Texas High
By MARTIN BRYANT | News-Telegram Correspondent

Feb. 27, 2004 -- TEXARKANA -- In sports small changes can make a big difference. The Sulphur Springs boys' soccer team used a slightly modified starting lineup to carve up Texas High Thursday night, 5-1.

The Wildcats found an offensive attack that was all but non-existent against Paris last Saturday and took advantage on almost every opportunity.

"I was a little nervous coming into this game because we haven't played in a while and the weather has kept us from practicing," head coach Andy Holt said. "We followed a poor game up with a great one when we needed it."

SSHS needed just seventeen seconds to prove they were ready to play. The Cats took the opening kickoff and played a couple of short passes before Layne Ashmore hit a long pass to a streaking Timo Torrez. Torrez took possession and buried a right-footed shot that would set the tone for an evening of domination.

Following Torrez' goal the offense became relentless while applying constant pressure to the Texas High defense. In the 12th minute John Fox crossed a ball over the six-yard box that was saved by the keeper. Blake Birchfield had a golden opportunity in the 16th minute but again the Tiger goalkeeper was able to make a save.

Torrez had another chance in the 19th minute but his shot ricocheted off the keeper then off the post before being cleared out of danger. Despite their efforts however, the Cats were only ahead 1-0 after a blistering first twenty minutes.

David Miranda changed that in the 23rd minute. After Ashmore put a pass right to his feet, Miranda scored on a right-footed shot that gave SSHS a 2-0 lead.

The only major setback for the Wildcats came in the 31st minute. Nick Kennon made a hard tackle to stop a Texas High attack and was called for a foul. The Tigers were awarded a penalty kick, which they converted into a goal.

The Cats continued to dominate in the second half and controlled the quick pace of play with solid offensive possessions. In the 43rd minute, Spencer Daniel scored on a cross from Birchfield. Daniel cut in front of the keeper and headed the ball in for a 3-1 advantage.

Torrez added another goal in the 58th minute to put SSHS up 4-1. Daniel took possession after a Texas High throw-in and passed the ball to a streaking Torrez who scored easily.

Jim Grand-Lienard put an exclamation point on the win and the offensive performance in the 79th minute of the game. Brent Holly crossed the ball into the six-yard box and Grand-Lienard's header slowly bounced into the net for a commanding 5-1 victory.

"This is one of the best overall performances we've had all year," Holt said. "We played well and we finally finished our opportunities."

Besides the penalty kick, the Cats allowed just four shots on goal while goalkeeper Jeremy Potter recorded two saves. All totaled the Wildcats put sixteen shots on goal.

SSHS moves to 7-1 in district play and now has 19 points. Mount Pleasant is currently in first place with 21 points and Pleasant Grove is in third with 18 points. Three points are awarded for a regulation win, two for a shootout win and one point is given for a shootout loss.

The Cats square off against Pleasant Grove tonight with the junior varsity game set for 5:30 and the varsity to follow at 7:00. This is also the last home game for SSHS and Senior Night as well.

"Tonight's game is huge as far as district standings are concerned," Holt said. "We need a full three points for a shot at a district championship."

In their last meeting the Wildcats were able to beat Pleasant Grove in a shootout after a 0-0 regulation tie. This makes tonight's game important not only for the district championship but also for the playoff standings as well.

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