Soccer Cats return to playoffs
By JIMMY ROGERS | News-Telegram Correspondent
Mar. 17, 2007 - Senior Night proved no distraction for Wildcat soccer Friday night as Sulphur Springs finessed its way to a 7-0 triumph over North Lamar on the Prim pitch.
The win, coupled with a victory Monday over last-place Liberty-Eylau, assures a play-off appearance for the Cats.
�Our guys came out and played well in the first half. We did a lot of good things and played good soccer tonight,� stated a satisfied SSHS head coach Andy Holt. �I'm proud of the seniors. We made sure that distractions did not get in the way. We were focused and played well.�
Sulphur Springs began its attack with three shots on goal in the opening minutes. Then, with 5 12 minutes off the clock, a Chad Rocker pass to Cole Lancaster set up the first goal of the evening when Junior Zach Junot, standing near the right post, redirected the Lancaster strike.
Goal 2 of the evening came just short of 10 minutes into the game when, from the right side of the 18-yard box, Rolando Larios set the ball at Lancaster' feet 14 yards in front of the goal. Lancaster's strike zipped past the goalie to set the tone for his hat trick evening.
Junot would return the earlier favor to Rocker two minutes later when his cross from the right corner found the senior, whose blistering strike announced the Cats' offensive superiority.
Just over 20 minutes into the game, junior Oscar Marroquin took a Junot pass 35 yards out and lofted the ball into the netting for the fourth goal of the night.
The Cats kept the ball on their offensive side 90 percent of the first half and much of the second. When defenders did touch the ball, it was a pass back from the midfield to provide possession and to begin working an attack.
Goal 5 for Sulphur Springs came with 12 minutes left in the half as senior Graham Northcutt worked the ball from his defensive position to the offensive side of the field. His pass to the front line was soon returned as he continued his run to open space. His strike seemed to deflate any Panther hopes of competing in the first half. � � �
Lancaster picked up his second goal of the night, the sixth of the half, with nine minutes showing on the clock. His third, and the final goal of the night for the Cats, was a 24-yard strike that passed just under the bar in the first three minutes of the second half.
Goals were not the only delight for Cat fans. Soccer fans were awed by the skills of Larios, an SSHS senior. His at times nonchalant and at other times aggressive manner in handling the ball defined his play for the year.
After the game, Holt said, “Rolando is a great player and he is going to be missed. His skill and knowledge of the game is very high. It's sweet to watch him with the ball. He makes it look 'way easy.' ”
It was a night when all Wildcats saw action. Near goals for seniors Kasie Carrell, Tyler Rascoe and others typified Friday's well-rounded team effort.
�Everybody on the bench got to play, and I thought they played very well. It shows we have some depth on the team," Holt explained. "Some of the younger guys came in for the seniors and that's good for them to get some playing time as we look to next year.�
Rocker, Northcutt and other backline players, challenged what few attempts North Lamar could muster or the ball was nicely placed into the waiting arms of goalie Mario Arellano.
Holt said, “We had another shut out. Right now, we are clicking and that's something you want to happen as we head into the playoffs. We have Liberty-Eylau Monday. We could get second place if something kind of crazy happens, but we are in the playoffs and that's what we want.”
Also on Monday, Pleasant Grove plays at Paris. Depending on what happens in that game, the Wildcats could end up in second. As long as they beat L-E, though they are in the playoffs.
A playoff scenario will be in Monday's edition.