Cathedral to sew up with win

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 31, 2004

It’s hard to say what will be driving Cathedral’s boys soccer team in its final regular season game at North Pike at 7 p.m. today.

However, there is no law stating it has to be one thing. Why can’t it be a combination of factors?

With the Green Wave’s fifth consecutive Division 7 title, along with home field advantage for the playoffs, there is plenty of impetus in the air.

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Both Cathedral and the Jaguars sit at 4-1 in Division 7 play, meaning both are in the playoffs that begin Jan. 27. However, an overall winner must be determined, and Green Wave coaches and players don’t see change as a good thing.

&uot;That’s what they’re playing for (tonight),&uot; Cathedral head coach Rick Freeman said of the division title. &uot;If they can pick up where they left off Tuesday, it looks good for us.&uot;

This past Tuesday looked very good for the Green Wave, as they dominated friendly rival Natchez High 6-0.

Freeman said Cathedral’s consistency during the shutout victory over the Bulldogs is what stood out to him. He dubbed it the best game from &uot;start to finish&uot; the Green Wave have played all season in getting retribution for a 2-1 shootout defeat on Dec. 22, 2003.

&uot;Of course I threatened their lives before the game,&uot; Freeman half-heartedly joked. &uot;Believe me, they take this seriously. If they didn’t before, they definitely did tonight.&uot;

It is easy money to believe Cathedral players will carry over a similar mentality into tonight’s rematch with North Pike.

Cathedral got the better of the Jaguars on Dec. 12, 2003, in a 3-0 shutout with goals from Palmer Rinehart, Nick Anderson and Cory Brock.

Rinehart seems more worried about the district championship than playoffs currently, borrowing the logic of a recently successful football coach.

&uot;I’d much rather have home field, but to do that we have to win (tonight),&uot; he said. &uot;As (LSU’s) Nick Saban says, we need to take it one game at a time.

Let’s first beat North Pike, and then worry about the playoffs.&uot;

Rinehart said North Pike has always pushed the Green Wave, adding none of the goals during the first meeting’s win were cheap.

Cathedral’s new-look offense, under the direction of Freeman &045; in his first year, after serving as a long time referee &045; has been able to work the kinks out, thanks to some superior defensive efforts.

The Green Wave defense really made their presence known during a 5-1 defeat of rival St. Aloysius on Jan. 6.

&uot;All (St. Al) had was (Michael) Headd, and in that first game he would dribble in and dribble out of us. We weren’t going to let that happen again,&uot; said Patrick Vogt, referring to the senior Flash, who has garnered plenty of recruiting attention. &uot;It gave us some confidence as a defense that we shut him down.&uot;

Freeman took over for former Cathedral coach Rocky Kettering, who moved to Georgia, and quickly began transitioning the veterans.

&uot;We knew the offense would take a while to develop that chemistry and continuity,&uot; he said. &uot;But everything seems to be falling into place. It really helped that the defense adapted so quickly.&uot;

With seven seniors, the pieces were in place for Freeman to build on the success of Kettering and current Natchez High coach Dennis Hogue, who preceded Kettering.

However, it took time in implementing an offense that is more centered on ball control than maximizing speed, as Green Wave teams of the past have abused, Freeman said.

&uot;I tried to get them to develop a midfield game to where it was a more controlled attack,&uot; he explained. &uot;If there was an opportunity for a breakaway, they could obviously take it. But I want them to read a defense and find the holes in it.&uot;

After Tuesday’s win, Freeman pointed to tonight’s game as the most important of the year for reasons already discussed.

Vogt said no one has to flip over benches or send lockers tumbling to the floor to make their point tonight.

For North Pike, it’s not in words, but a shared look.

&uot;I mean it’s the playoffs,&uot; Vogt said. &uot;That’s where it all happens.&uot;