Green Wave play for South State title

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, February 3, 2009

NATCHEZ — The Cathedral boy’s soccer team is in an unfamiliar position. Tonight they’re playing for the South State championship.

The Green Wave have made the playoffs 10 consecutive years but only advanced out of the first round four times and had never advanced past the second round until last Saturday, when a penalty kick victory over St. Patrick put them in tonight’s championship game against Resurrection.

“Everybody is really excited about the game,” Cathedral coach Rick Simons said. “These kids have worked so hard this season to get to where we are right now. All the hard work they put in is paying off.”

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Senior midfielder Kris Griffiths admitted there are some nerves and pressure that comes with being the first-ever Cathedral soccer team to advance to the South State title game.

“We’re definitely feeling some pressure on our backs,” Griffiths said. “But we’re also very excited about this game and we’re ready to go.”

Simons said the team has responded well to pressure the entire playoffs, and expects them to do it again tonight.

“As long as they play with confidence during the game we won’t have any problems with what we do (tonight),” Simons said. “Right now we’re playing the best soccer we’ve played all season.”

Cathedral has had two consecutive tough games in the playoffs, defeating Richland 2-1 in the first round before their penalty kick win over St. Patrick on Saturday.

Griffiths thinks playing those close games only benefits the Green Wave.

“To know we can beat very good teams and play good defense gives us a lot of confidence,” Griffiths said.

Simons said he doesn’t know a lot about Resurrection, which upset Franklin County in the second round. But Resurrection did lose twice in the regular season to St. Patrick, the team Cathedral beat on Saturday.

“They are going to be a good team being from the coast,” Simons said. “But as long as the boys play well for 80 minutes, that’s all I want.”

The team faces about a four-hour bus ride to Pascagoula for tonight’s game. Simons said they plan on leaving at noon and arriving in Pascagoula at about 4 p.m. for the 6 p.m. game.

“That way we won’t have to get right off the bus and play the game,” Simons said. “We’ll be able to stretch our legs and warm up good before the game starts.”

Cathedral might be enjoying their finest soccer season ever, but Griffiths, for one, doesn’t want to see it come to an end tonight.

“I can’t stop thinking about (tonight’s game),” Griffiths said. “I can’t wait. We want to go farther (in the playoff). We’re going to try and get as far as we can go.”