Soccer Cats season ends with 3-1 loss to Greenville
By JIMMY ROGERS | News-Telegram Correspondent
Mar. 24, 2007 - GREENVILLE - The failure to put together a complete game Friday night robbed the Wildcats of the right to advance in the soccer playoffs. The Cats lost the bi-district contest to the Greenville Lions 3-1 at T. A. “Cotton” Ford Stadium in Greenville.
�We didn't come out to play in the first half and that was the difference in the ball game in my opinion,� reflected SSHS head coach Andy Holt. �We came out the second half. We played for 40 minutes but not 80. I was proud of the way the team came out in the second half - they showed character.�
Holt credited senior leadership for the second-half rally that fell short when Greenville defender Devir Douglas received a Jon Tapp pass and placed it in the goal on a left-footed strike with 38 seconds left in the game. Up until that time, the Cats rally had showed promise of tying the game and sending it into overtime.
Holt said, “We played hard and created opportunities and did a good job defending in the second half. Unfortunately, we did not do that the whole game.”
Greenville head coach Casey Osborn's playoff hopes are buoyed by the consistent play of his team.
�We finally played for 80 minutes, we're putting it together now," he said. "We always score in the 78th or 79th minute now that we are getting consistency for 80 minutes.�
The Lions ended their district play in a three-way tie for second place - their losses coming at the hands of undefeated McKinney and McKinney North, which missed the playoffs.
The lone goal for the Cats came with just under 15 minutes left in the game when defender Tate Ramirez sent a 50-yard free kick to the left post that Graham Northcutt finished.
�Northcutt came in and cleaned it up,� praised Coach Holt. �Graham has done that all year. He has been the guy we look to.� Northcutt, the Cat right defender, has scored 10 goals for the year. �He will be sorely missed,� Holt lamented.
Much of the game took place at midfield where Greenville dominated the first half but struggled to contain the Cats in the second.
Holt pointed out, "In the midfield, Greenville has guys that are big and can win the ball. They have guys that are small that have great touch. Then they distribute to the forward's feet and they are very good.”
The first ten minutes of the game showed promise for the Cats. Following a Chad Rocker shot over the goal in the second minute of play, the next six minutes were spent with both teams unable to develop a solid attack.
In the 31st minute, a Sulphur Springs strike sent to the goal was batted down by an outstretched goalie creating a war inside the six-yard box, but that ended with a Greenville defender sending the ball across the goal line for a Wildcat corner kick. The left corner strike was fielded handily by Greenville keeper Martin Almanza.
It would be the 22nd minute of play before Greenville would approach the Wildcat goal with a header that was a near miss. The Lions finally connected with just under 15 minutes left in the half when Tapp created a run into the 18-yard box, stumbled, fell, got up and ripped a 12-yard strike into the goal. From that point on, the Lion offense came alive. Their midfield contained the ball on the Lion offensive side of the field.
The Lions' second goal occurred with just over three minutes left in the half when Jon Tapp's twin brother, Thomas, headed a Lion pass into the netting.
The Northcutt goal with 14:40 left in the game was the only one of several second-half shots that was finished. Eight minutes into the second half, Zach Junot sent one from the right side across the face of the goal but no Cat was present to finish. Two minutes later Jon Holt sent a 50-yard free kick into the goal box that the Lion goalie misplayed but a defender at the left post was successful in clearing. With 16 minutes left in the game, a Ramirez' 60-yard free kick was headed out by Greenville and the resulting Northcutt throw-in was headed away from the goal by the Lion defense.
Goalie Mario Arellano, Junot and defender Ramirez, all three juniors, produced an outstanding second-half effort. Arellano literally took the ball off the toe of Thomas Tapp, denying a shot, in the 71st minute of play.
�We're graduating a bunch of seniors but we have a lot of younger guys who saw a lot of playing time this year,� Holt said. �I looking forward to next year and what will come.�
Notes: The start of the second half was delayed five minutes when about half of the lights went out. Efforts to fix the lights were abandoned when it became apparent it would not be a factor in the game.