Sherman uses penalty kick to upend Cats in bi-district
By MARTIN BRYANT | News-Telegram Correspondent

March 19, 2004 -- FRISCO -- For a soccer ball to be round it sure does take some funny bounces. The ball definitely bounced against the Sulphur Springs boys' soccer team Thursday night as they lost their opening round playoff game to Sherman, 1-0.

SSHS entered the game as a number two seed in District 14-4A after posting an 11-1 district record while the Bearcats were 6-5-1 in their district and seeded third. The loss puts the Wildcats season record at 18-7-1.

"We had a very successful year," head coach Andy Holt said. "I am proud of the way we competed."

The lone score came in the 45th minute as the Cats were working to move the ball out their defensive third when a hard clear struck Brody Dyer on the arm. While Dyer had his arms to his sides and was attempting to dodge the ball when it struck him inside the 18-yard box, a penalty kick was awarded for the infraction. Sherman scored on the ensuing kick to take a 1-0 advantage.

In the first twenty minutes of the game the Cats looked dominant while holding the ball inside their offensive zone and pressuring the Sherman goal. The physical play of Sherman slowly began to take control however and the pace of the game changed.

An offside penalty negated a Sherman goal in the 29th minute but the Cats were unable to put solid possessions together and force some offensive opportunities. Goalkeeper Aaron Ball made a save off a Bearcat header in the 30th minute to prevent a goal.

In the 33rd minute SSHS had its best chance of the evening after Blake Birchfield found Layne Ashmore on a set kick from near midfield. Ashmore's shot sailed wide unfortunately and the threat was ended.

Ball made saves again in the 36th and 39th minutes to prevent goals and the first half ended in a scoreless tie. The Cats were outshot six to three in the first half while Ball recorded four saves.

Sherman continued their offensive pressure in the second half but the Wildcat offense seemed up to the task. Ball made another save in the 42nd minute on a hard shot by a Sherman player.

Sherman then took advantage of the penalty kick three minutes later.

SSHS began to apply pressure after falling behind but were able to create some solid opportunities. Brent Holly had his header saved in the 52nd minute and Eric Chenault's left-footed shot was saved in the 69th minute.

The Cats' last opportunity came in the 77th minute on a corner kick. After being played into the 18-yard box the ball was quickly cleared out of danger and the Wildcats season ended soon after.

"We didn't play our best game," Holt said. "We still gave ourselves a chance to win but we couldn't get that equalizing goal."

Holt also noted the play of Ball, Holly and Nick Kennon. With its' victory Sherman advances to play Whitehouse in the Area round of the state playoffs.

For SSHS seven seniors played their last game Thursday. These seniors include Birchfield, Miguel Becerra, Brody Dyer, Kennon, Ashmore, Jim Grand-Lienard and Clay McGraw.

"It's tough to lose this class of seniors," Holt said. "They are a great group of young men who have added to the successful history of our program."

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