Welcome to CADDO MAGNET High School Men's Soccer: Older News: Mustangs Near-Perfect in Tournament Championship

Sunday, December 2
Mustangs Near-Perfect in Tournament Championship

Using baseball phraseology – the Mustangs were pitching a perfect game into the bottom of the ninth inning at the 2007 Sulphur Tournament. But a converted penalty kick in the closing seconds of the championship match spoiled the shutout and gave the hometown runner-ups something to cheer about that none other in the tournament could claim – a goal against Caddo Magnet. The Mustangs rolled into the 5:00 PM final against Sulphur High School with twenty-two goals in their first four matches while allowing none. By game’s end they would hand the Golden Tors only their second loss of the season (the other coming the prior week at the feet of Division III state champion St. Louis).

The championship match began in typical Mustang fashion with a flurry of offense from the opening moments, and by the fourth minute the Tors found themselves in a two-goal deficit against a team that seemed to be getting stronger with each match. In the second minute of the contest forward Adam West found the back of the net with a shot from 15 yards out. In the third minute sophomore forward Alex Blandin took a pass and weaved in to the top of the 6-yard box before slamming it in. Midway into the half Blandin got into the assist column with a pass to West who notched his second score of the half. This one was set up by a nifty set of one-touch passes through a maze of defenders. Midfield insiders Nick Flowers and Zach Kelly were the core of a precision distributing unit that had the Mustangs in scoring position time after time throughout the tournament. In the 37th minute West would collect his third goal of the championship match with a bullet following a drive into the center of the penalty box area. The remaining twenty-three minutes of the contest would be capably managed by the bench as they continued to control the pace and maintain the shutout until the final few seconds. The penalty kick followed a take-down in the box. Caddo Magnet dominated play throughout and had fifteen shots-on-goal compared to two for Sulphur. Final score – 4 to 1 and the tournament title.

The prior semi-final match with bracket-winner Carencro was a match-up for which Caddo Magnet had been waiting since Carencro had knocked them out of the playoffs two years ago. Jimmy Cowles got the scoring started early in this one with a shot from the top of the box three minutes into the match. Four minutes later Kelly sent a dart to West in front of the net, and boom – 2 to 0 in the seventh minute. At that point Caddo Magnet’s play began to suffer as players became distracted with a frustrated Carencro’s elevated physicality. The half played out in this manner with lots of bravado and several warnings but no additional scores. The Mustangs got back on track in the second half, however, and in the 44th minute outside mid Cowles sent a pass into West who quickly popped it in. Two minutes later West took another pass at the top of the 6-yard box, this one from Kelly, to record his third goal of the game and his first of two hat tricks for the day. The remaining fifteen minutes saw multiple substitutions but continued control of the match. Carencro would get its one and only shot-on-goal during this time, but by game’s end keeper Chris Hilario had his fourth shutout of the tournament in four chances.  Final score - 4 to 0.

Earlier bracket wins against Northside (6 to 0), Leesville (7 to 0), and St Louis B team (5 to 0) established Caddo Magnet as a strong favorite to win the tournament. The games were all similar in style – with Caddo Magnet scoring early and often in each with little resistance. The possession-minded Mustangs controlled every aspect of the games with a defense that allowed only three shots-on-goal during the three bracket matches and a disciplined midfield with pinpoint passing that generated thirty-one shots-on-goal over that same period. With strong starts and dominant play, most of the starting eleven didn't play beyond ten or fifteen minutes in the first two matches and just a little over a half in the more challenging third match with St Louis B (the sophomores and juniors without the seniors). A starter who probably got himself the quickest hook from a game was Blandin, who was gone after four minutes following a sophomore mistake - scoring three times in the first four minutes of a match. (Thank you Tommy J for that amusing observation.) That was in the Mustangs’ first match against Lafayette’s Northside. Other scores in that match came from Jordan Abdehou following a pass from Alex Payne, a direct free kick from Payne soon afterward, and Dorian Long after chasing down a beautiful through pass from Abdehou. Other assists came from West and Flowers, both facilitating Blandin's early exit.

There were five Magnet scores by halftime in the second match against Leesville with two more coming in the second half.  Scoring came from Blandin (assist from Bush on a deep cross), West with two (assists from Blandin and Flowers), Bush (nice through pass assist from Flowers), Long with two (assists from Spencer Johnson and Payne), and Jordan Mitchell (assist from Long). 

The third match against the St Louis B-team turned out to be the most challenging in bracket play and produced arguably the two most beautiful scoring plays of the weekend. The starting unit extended their time on the field into the second half for the first time in the tournament before turning a 4 to 0 lead over to the bench. They capably maintained the possession edge and continued to create scoring chances, getting one more goal midway through the final half. Scores in this contest came from Blandin in the 12th (assist from Bush) and 27th minutes, Bush (assist from Kelly) in the 25th, Flowers in the 35th minute (Bush assist), and finally a long one in the 45th minute from Michael Reeks who sent a left-footer in over the keeper from 20 yards out. Final score – 5 to 0.  The first of two really nice plays in this one was the first Blandin score. Outside mid Bush started the play as he made a super-human effort to catch up with a long pass and somehow managed a beautiful cross just off the endline to a leaping Blandin in front of the net who volleyed it in with the keeper draped over his back. You had to be there… The second play for the highlight reel was center mid Flowers’ effort. Bush was also at the driving end of this one as he leapt high from the right side of the net to head a cross back into the front of the goal. The resulting deflection went fast and low with Flowers reacting with a head-first dive to blast it in – a bang-bang play that would be impossible to re-create.

With the tournament success Caddo Magnet pushes its overall record to seven wins without a loss. This tournament gave Coach Radi Baltov an opportunity to play his entire roster throughout the weekend, and with all getting playing time one cannot help but feel that a good bench just got a little deeper. The forward position looked very strong throughout with scores coming from four different forwards. The West and Blandin duo picked up 15 of the 26 goals at crucial times in the tournament. The midfield was very strong providing 15 of the 21 assists while rarely allowing the opponent to build any kind of attack. The defensive line held their opponents to an average of one shot-on-goal per game over the five-match series with the one score coming off the pk in the final. Keeper Hilario picked up four more shutouts in the tournament but has yet to be challenged.

District play resumes this week with Huntington on Monday Dec 3 and Southwood on Thursday Dec 6. A big district match the following Monday against Captain Shreve will take the team into a mid-December tournament as the Mustangs defend their crown at the Parkway Invitational in Bossier City.