|Rodgers records hat trick in win over Paris|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
Feb. 28, 2006 - Those who got to Gerald Prim Stadium late on Monday missed the drama.
Sulphur Springs senior forward Chris Rodgers scored his first goal a half-minute into the game and added another one before fans had time to visit the concession stand.
By the manner in which the district-leading Wildcats were controlling Paris, the only real questions after that were whether Rodgers would get a hat trick (he did), whether the Wildcats could maintain the shutout (they didn't), and how many SSHS players would score (four).
The result was a 5-0 halftime advantage that ended in a 6-2 victory for the Wildcats, who successfully completed the first leg of their important slate of two games in two days.
The Wildcats, 16-2 overall and 7-0 in District 13-4A, face second-place Mount Pleasant (6-1) at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday at Prim Stadium. A win for Sulphur Springs would virtually wrap up the district title.
But, to get there, the Wildcats first had to handle Paris in a match postponed from Saturday because of rain.
Rodgers' first goal, in which he dribbled in on the left wing and slid a shot past the goalie into the right corner of the net from 12 yards out, showed that the Wildcats weren't overlooking Paris (4-3, in fourth place).
"Chris did an outstanding job of finding the back of the net tonight, and he's done that all year for us," said SSHS head coach Andy Holt. "That's a big advantage when you can score a minute into the game, because the nerves calm down and everybody starts to play the game.
"One of the main deals was not overlooking Paris. Paris has been inconsistent, I would say, in district play. They're a team that if they're playing well and we're not on, they're capable of beating us. We did a good job of focusing and playing tonight."
Rodgers also scored the Cats' second goal 10 minutes into the game off an assist from Rolando Larios.
Larios then got a goal of his own at the 16:50 mark, and it was brilliant. Daniel Santillan sent the ball ahead to Larios at about 20 yards out. Larios dribbled it around two defenders to get within 10 yards of the goal, then performed a stop-and-go move to get around the goalie, who had come charging out. He then drilled it into the net through three defenders who were scrambling to cover the open goal.
Just like that, it was 3-0.
Sulphur Springs junior Jon Holt then got into the scoring column off a throw-in from Graham Northcutt, who had two assists in the game, with 11 minutes to go in the first half. The final goal of the half came with 5:45 to play when Spenser Daniel got his head on another Northcutt throw-in, to give the Wildcats a 5-0 lead.
"Our guys came out and played well. I thought we played one of the better first halves that we've ever played," Holt said. "We did a great job of knocking around and finding space.
"We're doing a good job of one-and two-touching balls. When we got the ball to the middle of the field, I thought we were going to score every time because we're able to get in behind them and create that space."
Sulphur Springs took 22 shots on goal in the first half, compared to two by Paris.
In the second half, the Wildcats quickly scored another goal - again by Rodgers to give him the hat trick - just two minutes into the half. Rodgers received a pass from Jon Holt, dribbled in on the left wing and fired it past the goalie and a sliding defender to put the Wildcats up, 6-0.
Coach Holt was then able to make extensive substitutions for the remainder of the game, and Paris took 13 shots on goal in the final 40 minutes.
Austin Cunningham scored Paris' first goal at the 30:30 mark, and Ariel Temporal added a final tally with 1:45 to play.
But, the Wildcats also made some outstanding defensive plays in the second half.
Two of the most outstanding plays came when Paris' Cunningham fired a one-on-one shot that SSHS goalie Jeremy Potter was able to dive and deflect. But, the ball continued to trickle toward the mouth of the goal until sweeper Brent Holly made a sliding kick save at the last moment to get the ball out.
Just a few minutes later, Potter also stopped a penalty kick by Ibarra from about 15 yards out.
They will need that same kind of intensity tonight against Mount Pleasant.
"That's really for the district championship," Holt said. "If we can win Tuesday night, then I think we'll have two hands on it.
"We were able to get some subs in tonight and rest our guys for Mount Pleasant. It'll be a big game, and hopefully we'll have a big crowd."
The JV Wildcats beat Paris, 2-1, with goals being scored by Omar Sanchez and Cruz Lozano.