Overcoming frigid conditions and its own below average offensive play, Catholic High School defeated Dutchtown 1-0 to claim the Division I, District 5 soccer title.
“It’s always nice to clinch district,” Catholic coach Bo Cassidy said. “It’s one of the goals we set out for as a team. I’m proud of the guys, and our ability to achieve it is a credit to their hard work this season.”
From the onset, the Bears (13-1-5, 9-0-2) controlled the pace of play on Dutchtown’s side of the pitch. The Griffins defense was able to repel several waves of Catholic’s offensive assault, but much like a sand castle near the ocean, eventually succumbed to the incessant pressure from the Bears offense.
In the 15th minute, Catholic senior Parker Caulfield corralled a cross in the midst of a crowded box and quickly ripped the ball in the direction of the goal.
Before Dutchtown freshman goalkeeper Christian Carrillo could reach the shot, Catholic sophomore Jake Cavana swooped in and shot the ball into the back of the net, giving the Bears a 1-0 lead.
“They serviced the ball in, and we didn’t clear the first ball so the ball ends up falling at someone’s feet, where it may or may not have been off sides,” Dutchtown coach Larry Chambless said. “If we clear the first ball, then they don’t score.”
The Bears continued to press offensively, but failed to pad their lead after squandering opportunities to convert corner and free kicks in the latter part of the first half.
The Griffins offense finally gained ground late in the first half, pushing the ball into Catholic territory with more frequency. Dutchtown’s best shot on goal came in the 34th minute when senior Jeremy Thompson’s seemingly perfect shot from just inside the penalty box failed to curve into the goal, clanging instead off the left post.
Dutchtown (9-8-2, 3-5-2) pulled Carrillo in the 35th in exchange for senior goalkeeper Zachary Briggs. Carrillo finished with two saves, while Briggs snagged three saves.
“Both of the keepers are strong,” Chambless said. “After starting the freshman, I felt he wasn’t being as aggressive as he has in other games. We just tried to take a different look.”
The second half proved to be a bevy of missed opportunities for both squads on the offensive end of play. Potential goals from both teams flew wide left and wide right, over the goal, off the posts and everywhere but the back of the net.
“(At halftime) we talked about energy, keeping your energy up and pressing but not giving them the second to get their head up and take a swing at the ball,” Chambless said.
“We just couldn’t convert (the shots),” Cassidy said. “Sometimes you have days where we’re not as clean as you’d like it in the final third. We left a few chances hanging.”
Bears junior Michael Focht received the lone yellow card of the contest when he shoved Dutchtown’s Cameron Gautreau in the 55th minute.
“They’re a real strong team,” Chambless said. “They don’t give up a lot of goals and we don’t score a lot. We didn’t score tonight, but we kept ourselves in the game and we had the opportunities, if we get a break, to get a win.”