Catholic High’s soccer team has been working since the summer on a new offensive approach. Bears forward Ben Hupperich said his hat trick Tuesday was evidence of progress.
Hupperich scored three of Catholic’s goals and the Bears controlled the ball much of the game in Tuesday’s District 3 Division I opening 4-0 victory at Baton Rouge High.
“I can’t say it was all me; I owe a lot to my team,” said Hupperich, who notched his second hat trick this season. “At the beginning of the season we struggled to figure out how to play together. This is the first time we really clicked well.”
Hupperich had two of the Bears’ three goals in the first half with Ben Ellis getting the other. All-state forward Cole Casenave assisted on two goals and Blake Cook on another as Catholic improved its record to 8-3-3.
“We’ve been training since the summer with the new coach and we changed our playing style,” Hupperich said. “We possess more in the midfield and take our time looking for runs. Our forwards are quick and we exploit those runs with midfielders.”
Ellis got Catholic going with a goal in the 15th minute when he knocked in a rebound off Baton Rouge High goalie Taylor Theunissen from a shot by Casenave. Hupperich got his first goal on a rocket shot from beyond the box that went through Theunissen’s arms.
Casenave made a run and then slipped the ball sideways to Hupperich, who beat his defender to make it 3-0 at halftime.
Hupperich said his favorite goal was his last, early in the second half. Cook hit a perfect through ball that Hupperich ran onto and scored from about 20 yards out.
“One thing we’ve been working on is starting quick,” said CHS program director Sanders Davis. “This is the first time we’ve put together a full game. This is a team capable of doing a lot of good stuff when they were on. This time they were on.”
First-year coach Matheus Costa credited Alex Leonard with a strong defensive effort on the Bulldogs forward Yvan Muenyi. CHS goalies Ben Johnson and Sam Westra combined for the shutout.
The Bulldogs (9-3-3) best chance came in the first half when Cameron Bachar was one-on-one with Johnson but missed wide right on a shot from the left side. Baton Rouge High had three shots on goal early in the second half but two sailed over the bar and another went wide left.
“They’re a fast, physical team, well-organized,” BRHS coach Richard Harsch said. “We came out in second half and played better, trying to find a little space. Credit to them, they were winning those 50-50 balls, beating us to the ball all night. It’s hard to get things going when you can’t hold the ball.”