Green Wave faces unknown RHS to start postseason

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 31, 2004

NATCHEZ &045; D’Evereux Stadium can officially be dubbed the &uot;No Spin Zone&uot; for Cathedral’s soccer program entering today’s first-round playoff matchup against Division 6 runner-up Richland at 6 p.m. today.

It would be easy to squeeze a tall pitcher of lemonade out of the Green Wave’s previous postseason losses by saying those defeats have come at the hands of teams that went on to play for the state crown, which is a fact.

But that does not make the wounds of said losses feel any better.

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&uot;I think it’s a matter of keeping the team focused and confident, so they can continue to play well,&uot; Green Wave head coach Rick Freeman, who ushered in Cathedral to the playoffs in his first season. &uot;They’ve been working hard and I feel like they’re ready to go.&uot;

Cathedral, who has made the playoffs six straight years, has won only one playoff game since 1999, a 4-2 defeat of Forrest County Agricultural in 2002 before being blanked 10-0 to West Lauderdale in the second round.

Last year, the results at home against West Lauderdale were much closer; however, the result was still the same with a 3-2 loss.

The Green Wave are coming off back-to-back wins over Natchez High (6-0) last Tuesday and North Pike (4-1) on Friday, which was the win that allowed them to wrap up their fifth consecutive Division 7 title.

&uot;The whole team is playing well right now,&uot; Freeman said. &uot;The offense is clicking and the defense, which has played well all year, is still doing that. I’m pleased with going into the playoffs with that happening.&uot;

Senior forward Nick Anderson scored all four goals in the defeat of North Pike Friday, giving him 23 for the season, which by far leads the team.

But Freeman finds Anderson even more valuable on defense, where he pitches in when an opponent’s offense is pressuring the Cathedral keeper.

&uot;Nick seems to be there when we needed a little extra something,&uot; Freeman said. &uot;Sometimes when Nick feels there is greater pressure on the defense, he commits to falling back. That’s a key for us. That’s when we need everybody to perform at their best.&uot;

This group of Green Wave seniors has been a part of the postseason since they were members of the soccer team as seventh graders.

Freeman knows that experience is an added bonus, but it won’t mean much unless Cathedral can go farther in the playoffs than its has before.

&uot;We can’t have a real good game and then fall off,&uot; he said. &uot;That’s what we have to guard against. I think we’ve got a bit of momentum over the last two regular season games. Hopefully, that will carry over and we can build on that.&uot;