Eduin DelCid knows exactly what to expect Thursday night. It’s the same treatment he has received the past two years.
The Woodlawn boys soccer team hosts Holy Cross on Thursday night for the first time since the Tigers ousted Woodlawn 1-0 in last season’s Division II state semifinals.
In that game, there was no mistaking Holy Cross’ defensive strategy: Stop DelCid. It was one of the only games all year he was slowed down, let alone shut out — and it took three, sometimes four defenders to pull off the feat.
DelCid circled Thursday's game a long time ago.
“I really want to beat this team,” he said Monday. “In the semifinals, they had us at 1-0. I was like, ‘Oh man, we should’ve won this game.’ And then I was like, ‘I’ve got to play harder.’ It’s going to be the same (strategy as last season from Holy Cross), but we’re going to see what’s up.”
Several teams have taken the Tigers’ approach to defending DelCid this season, focusing the majority of their attention on the undersized forward. But the more defensive game plans focus on DelCid, the better he seems to get.
Just a few years after moving to the United States from his home of Puerto Cortes, Honduras, DelCid leads the nation with 32 goals, the most of any player in the winter soccer season according to MaxPreps.com. (The winter season is mostly limited to Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Florida, California, Arizona and Hawaii.) The next closest Louisiana player, according to the website, is eight goals behind him.
Even more impressive is that his total comes in only 10 games. Much like he did last season, DelCid scores a hat trick in almost every game. He has hit the now-mundane milestone eight times this season, putting him only 17 goals behind his 2015-16 total before the Panthers even get to district play.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the only games Woodlawn hasn’t won were the two in which DelCid did not score at least three goals.
“I just get lucky,” he said. “I don’t know why, but I just get lucky.”
Woodlawn coach Andrew Barnes has shifted his team's formation to three men up top to help deflect some of the attention DelCid receives from opposing defenses. Instead of leaving DelCid as the lone offensive threat and allowing him to create scoring opportunities by himself, as the team did last season, the Panthers now try to force teams to choose between guarding DelCid and leaving multiple forwards undefended.
It does leave the Panthers somewhat depleted on the defensive third of the field but, as long as DelCid and the offense continue to produce, Barnes said he doesn’t have a problem with the defense.
Barnes did not say what formation Woodlawn would use Thursday, but he noted it would be different than what his team showed in the playoffs against Holy Cross.
“The new formation gives us more people up top, which helps spread (the defense) out a little bit,” he said. “It’s not just one or two up top where it’s easy to double DelCid and single the other guy. Now we have more people up top, which creates more trouble for the opposite team.”