Improved Natchez High, Cathedral squads to meet in rematch tonight

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 13, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; If you saw the first meeting of Natchez High and Cathedral in soccer, tonight’s rematch may be much different.

Back on Dec. 3 Cathedral powered its way to a 6-1 in over the Bulldogs in the first meeting of the two clubs, but tonight’s meeting could feature two entirely different clubs &045; both moving in the right direction &045; since that first encounter.

Game time is 7 p.m. today at D’Evereux Stadium.

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The most significant may be the Bulldogs, who come in off its first win of the season last week over North Pike.

&uot;We’re a lot better, and I anticipate a completely different game,&uot; NHS head coach Dennis Hogue said. &uot;The boys have been playing together. They know everyone’s strengths and weaknesses. They’re excited about the game. After practice we got in a huddle and had a little pep rally. Our guys felt like they didn’t perform as well as they could have.&uot;

On the other hand you have the Green Wave, who played some of its best soccer last week and held a 1-0 lead on a good St. Aloysius team Saturday until 25 minutes left in the game.

The Flashes took the 3-2 win in what was Cathedral’s fourth game in eight days and their first loss of the season. The Green Wave beat Wesson the night before in its first home game without midfielder Bennett Jeansonne.

&uot;The biggest game we’ve had was Friday night,&uot; Cathedral head coach Rocky Kettering said. &uot;I didn’t realize it until Saturday morning. We hit empty, and St. Al got a little run and scored three goals in 10 minutes. I didn’t realize how much Friday took out of the boys. I was just on empty as a coach. I had nothing left in my brain as a coach.&uot;

The loss may have relaxed the Green Wave a little bit, and now it can get on with the remainder of the season with a 4-0 mark in division. That’s exactly what the Bulldogs are doing, and they’ve had plenty of rest &045; a whole week off &045; as opposed to Cathedral’s busier schedule at this point.

&uot;I think it (loss) will keep us focused a little more,&uot; Kettering said. &uot;We look forward to playing Natchez. Natchez beat North Pike, and that was a really big win. I’m looking forward to seeing the new Natchez High. We played the first (home) game Dennis was coaching. The team has seen him and his coaching style. Our guys are especially looking forward to what Natchez is going to bring to the table.&uot;

The matchup is the second homecoming of sorts for Hogue, who was instrumental in starting the soccer program at Cathedral before Kettering’s arrival. The coaching vacancy at Natchez surfaced after the start of the season, and Hogue stepped in to finish out the season.

Hogue is active in the youth soccer league in Natchez and is familiar with players on the Cathedral squad. Palmer Rinehart, Wyler Murray and John Paul Kenda accounted for goals in the Green Wave’s win over Wesson.

&uot;They pass the ball well,&uot; Hogue said. &uot;Everybody has confidence in their teammates. They all have ball skills, and they’re all smart. We have the same as well, but we don’t have as much time behind the ball as a team as Cathedral. We’re getting there, but that’s their strength.&uot;

The boys’ game will follow the girls’ matchup, a rematch from the Lady Bulldogs’ 1-0 win a month ago. The Lady Wave posted perhaps its biggest win of the season Friday against two-time defending division champion Wesson.

But today the Lady Wave could be without three key players &045; Joanna Stubbs, Brittany Funderburg and Mary Margaret Steckler &045; who are either injured, ill or both, Kettering said.

&uot;We’ve changed a couple things around that have worked out better for us since Cathedral,&uot; Hogue said. &uot;Actually we’re moving the ball better up the field. I saw (Cathedral) play Wesson, and they looked good. They looked better than when we played them. It ought to be a good match.&uot;