Both Cathedral teams in playoffs, prep to face Bulldogs tonight

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 31, 2005

NATCHEZ &045; For Natchez High, tonight’s game against Cathedral is the final contest of a season that’s been pretty rough in terms of the win-loss column.

It’s perhaps less important for Cathedral than for Natchez.

The Green Wave (5-3, 7-6) found out just last night they would be in the playoffs when Franklin County beat North Pike, ensuring Cathedral of a spot in the postseason.

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For the Bulldogs, it’s all that’s left in a season that hasn’t been what they wanted. A good portion of their disappointment would likely be erased by a win over the Green Wave.

&uot;We play teams all the time that we don’t like, but it doesn’t really matter. If you beat most of these teams, you never see them again,&uot; Hogue said. &uot;This game is for bragging rights, someone we can rib a little when we see them in town.&uot;

The Green Wave is eager as well for those bragging rights, but they are more focused on using this game and their next game against McComb to get ready for the opening game of the playoffs Tuesday night. Cathedral will be on the road for that game, though Cathedral head coach Rick Freeman did not know where yet.

Cathedral got a good win over St. Aloysius earlier this week and would like to get two more wins before the playoffs.

&uot;We played well last night and they had the right attitude,&uot; Freeman said. &uot;I’m trying to keep these guys focused. It won’t be an easy game (against Natchez).&uot;

Cathedral won the first game between the two local teams in relatively easy fashion, taking a 4-0 victory over the Bulldogs. Natchez’s offense sputtered in the game while Cathedral attacked with frequency. But Hogue said his team has played much better over the last few games as it gains more experience.

&uot;This year (Cathedral’s) squad is more experienced, so they might have an advantage,&uot; Hogue said. &uot;I’m really looking forward to next year and the year after that.&uot;

Hogue’s enthusiasm for the future is easy to explain. Natchez has plenty of young players who will be coming back for future campaigns. A number of starters are still sophomores, including goalkeeper Jeremy Buckles, who has gone from soccer novice to begin the season to one of the team’s best players.

Buckles said he would like to send his team’s seniors out with a win in their final game.

&uot;It’s our cross-town rivalry, so we have to beat them,&uot; Buckles said. &uot;We don’t want to let our seniors leave with just one win this season. I would love to shut them out. If my defense performs like they have the last couple of games, there will be a shutout.&uot;

Natchez has come a long way from the beginning of the season. With a number of players coming to the team without any experience playing soccer, the team had plenty of growing pains to get through. Hogue said the progress he has seen in his team is amazing.

Cathedral girls at Natchez

NATCHEZ &045; The Lady Bulldogs won a tight one over Cathedral the first time around, getting a 1-0 victory on Jessica Evans’s goal.

Things are a little different this time around. Cathedral is more worried about the playoffs than anything else, but the loss to Natchez is certainly on the Lady Green Wave’s minds.

&uot;Hopefully we’ll win. The beat us last time, but I think we can do it,&uot; Cathedral defender Brittany Funderburg said. &uot;It’s one of those hometown rivalries where you still like them, but you want to beat those girls.&uot;

For the Lady Green Wave, it’s been a nerve-wracking wait to see if they would make the playoffs. It came down to a game between North Pike and Franklin Thursday night, but the Lady Green Wave got in.

Natchez is winding its season down, but head coach Lena Yarbrough is determined to get one more victory against the Lady Bulldogs’ cross-town rival.

&uot;I’m trying to let the girls know you can’t slack off at the end of the season,&uot; Yarbrough said. &uot;We still have a chance to beat Cathedral.&uot;