Cathedral can clinch district title with victory

Published 1:07 am Thursday, January 21, 2010

NATCHEZ — The last time the senior class for the Cathedral varsity boys soccer team won a district championship, they were riding the bench and coming in for mop-up duty.

Cathedral (13-2, 4-1) hasn’t won its district in three years, and they will have an opportunity to do just that tonight when they take on Wesson High School at 7:30 p.m.

That game will be preceeded by the varsity girls game at 6 p.m.

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The girls have already locked up second place in the district.

Cathedral boys head coach Paul Burns said securing the district title and getting to host a game in the first round of the playoffs is something he thinks his seniors really want.

“They were freshmen the last time we won, and they probably didn’t see much meaningful playing time, so it’s probably going to be a big deal to them,” Burns said.

Standing in their way is a Wesson team that Cathedral has already seen once this season. The Green Wave defeated the Cobras 6-1 in snowy conditions, but Burns stressed that those results don’t matter the second time around.

“I told them we’re a different team and they’re a different team,” Burns said. “They upset Franklin County last week, so I know they’ve improved.”

Burns also said the weather during their first matchup this season may skew Cathedral’s first impressions of Wesson.

“There’s always an advantage (in seeing a team once already), because you get somewhat of a familiarity with them. In this case, it was the first district game for both of us.

“It’s difficult to really assess that advantage, because you have to ask, how much have they changed. The snow was a factor. I have a feel for how much it affected our guys, but I’m not sure how much it affected their guys.”

In the end, though, Burns said he’s simply trying to get his players to focus on their own game, and not worry as much about the other team’s identity.

“We’re just worrying about what our guys do and doing it well,” Burns said. “We’re not worried as much about Wesson and what they do.”

And that has been the focal point in practice this week for the Green Wave, Burns said.

“I think they’re focused. You’re always worried about complacency and overconfidence, but I think we’ll be OK. It’s our third district game in a row, and I’ve been telling them to worry about one game at a time.”

One advantage for Cathedral is the fact that the game is at home, which Burns said gives his players some level of comfort.

“It’s nice being at home, because I don’t have as much heartburn over the game. All the kids can go through their normal routines of going to school, going home and eating and coming back for the game. They don’t have to worry about traveling.”

When evaluating his team’s improvement over the course of the season, shot selection was something his players are doing better with.

“We press well on the offensive end, but I don’t see us saying, ‘Oh gosh, I have to shoot the ball because I’m close to the goal,’” Burns said. “They’re looking for better scoring opportunities.”