Welcome to CADDO MAGNET High School Men's Soccer: Older News: Caddo Magnet Defeats St. Paul's To Reach State Final

Saturday, February 16
Caddo Magnet Defeats St. Paul's To Reach State Final

The Mustangs accomplished what no other Division One North Louisiana boys' soccer team has ever done… a trip to Round Five - the Big One !   Caddo Magnet scored early and then withstood a strong second-half challenge from St Paul’s School of Covington for a 1 to 0 semifinal victory and a chance for the state title. The game was played under beautiful cloudless skies with temperatures in the upper sixties. Though the Caddo Magnet fan base was smaller than their regional playoff at Dutchtown they did have a large family contingency and lots of Caddo alumni from nearby colleges rooting them on.

This one got off to a fast start with both sides creating early chances. Mustang keeper Chris Hilario had his first save less than a minute in as St Paul’s deflected a pass deep into the penalty box following a nice build-up. There was a lot of traded opportunities in the early going, but neither side was able to surprise the other. A couple of minutes into the contest defender Luke Snow sent a long through-pass to the opposite back line. Steven Bush won the ball and raced down the right side to send the shot in but it was stopped by the keeper. Less than a minute later the Mustangs got another great chance as the ball was played to the top of the goal box in heavy traffic but was immediately cleared. In the fourth minute Caddo Magnet had still another chance with a shot from the top of the penalty box, but it was easily snapped up. At this early point the Mustangs appeared to be the stronger team. In the fifth minute the Wolves finally got a shot off, but it was stopped by a defender. In the ninth minute the Wolves got their first shot-on-goal on a header but were denied. In the 12th minute the Mustangs got another chance and this time they sent in the eventual game winner. Center mid Nick Flowers sent a pass to center mid Zach Kelly in the middle of the field at the 45- yard mark who quickly chipped a perfect ball over the defensive line. Forward Adam West and his defender raced to the ball as the keeper rushed out. West reached the ball first and softly flicked the ball over the keeper into the back of the net from 18 yards out. West continues to find ways to score goals in the tough matches and leads the team by a wide margin in that category. The first of many yellow cards appeared in the fourteenth minute. The center referee sent a message to all as she issued a card to a St Paul’s player who went down in what she determined to be a dive. In the 16th minute West found himself in position for another shot from 28 yards out but it was wide left. In the 17th minute St Paul’s shot themselves in the foot after putting themselves in great position in front of the net. Following a long pass and cross into the middle of the penalty box the shooter pushed off to create more space and the play was whistled dead. The Wolves threatened a break-away from the right side in the 21st minute, but Flowers stopped the play from developing with a nice slide tackle for which he was issued a yellow card. The resulting free kick form 27 yards out was sent over the cross bar. St Paul’s had another free kick from the same distance shortly after but with similar results. The Wolves appeared to stretch out their passes towards the end of first half in an effort to equalize the score but to no avail. Their closest chance came just a few minutes before the end of the half on a free kick. Mustang keeper Hilario went up to catch the shot but could not reach it in heavy traffic. A St Paul’s player was able to get a head on it at the top of the goal box and send it low towards the far post, but Snow was stationed there and alertly cleared the shot over the crossbar to preserve the Mustang lead. St Paul’s got a couple more corners and close throw-ins near the end of the first half but could not convert any of them. Caddo Magnet had one more opportunity near the 40 minute mark as Alex Blandin worked his way to the top of the penalty box but his shot went straight to the keeper. The sides went into halftime with Caddo Magnet clinging to the slim 1 to 0 lead.

Zach Kelly got things started early in the second half with a long pass over the defensive back line in the first minute. Bush was there for the chance but the keeper came out to stop it. In the 43rd minute Caddo Magnet got another good chance after several nice passes put the ball inside the penalty box for forward Victor Leuck. He got the shot off but the keeper smothered it at the top of the goal box. A couple of minutes later Kelly found himself inside the 18-yard box but his shot was deflected by a defender. That would be the Mustangs strongest challenge in the second half, though, as St Paul’s began to ramp up the offensive intensity in a desperate attempt to find the net. A close-range header off a throw-in at the 47-minute mark almost tied it up, but keeeper Hilario was there. A few minutes later St Paul’s ripped a rocket at the net from the middle of the 18-yard line but Hilario again was there. St Paul’s had its best chance of the second half in the 58th minute when they intercepted a pass at the midline and chipped it back to the top right of the penalty box. A St Paul’s striker then slipped a low shot towards the far post past a diving Hilario as he came out to defend. An eternity seemed to pass before outside defender Spencer Inman raced into position to clear the ball at the one-yard line. Luke Snow was lost at this point for the remainder of the match upon receiving his second yellow for arguing. Caddo Magnet came close to adding to its lead in the 66th minute when Kelly sent a free kick into the goal box. Flowers was in the air waiting for it, but his header went wide of the upright. In the 67th minute St Paul’s almost produced an own-goal when their keeper had to make a diving catch of a mis-directed defender’s header. St Paul's continued its aggressive play and collected two more yellow cards during the remainder of the half. Both sides appeared to tire in the closing minutes, but St. Paul’s was still creating lots of chances with throw-ins and free kicks. The Mustangs held on, however, to salvage the 1 – 0 victory over a very skilled and determined opponent and advance to the championship match. The Mustangs collected their 21st shutout and their fifth one-goal-margin victory in six tries (the lone failure coming in the early-season Shreve loss). Outside defender Robert Poole had perhaps his best game of the year as he shut down St Paul’s relentless attack on the right wing.

With their strong effort in the second half St Paul’s pulled ahead in almost every category except the scoring line. After being even in shots-on-goal through the first half with four apiece, the Wolves widened the difference considerably with eight in the second half compared to the Mustangs’ two. But most of those came from long-range and were easily defended. St Paul’s also led in free kicks and corner kicks by a wide margin as that seemed to be the attack strategy towards the end of both halves. This victory marks the fourth win for the Mustangs in the last five meetings between these two teams, with most of those match-ups coming via bracket play in the annual St Paul’s Holiday Tournament. St Paul’s was a season-long Top 10 team and last year’s state runner-up. Coach Radi Baltov was forced to experiment with the line-up throughout the match due to last week’s loss of outside midfielder Jimmy Cowles to a knee injury, today’s loss of his replacement Jordan Abdehou to a first-half injury, and then Luke Snow’s departure due to the soft red card. Jack Waterman, Jordan Mitchell, Dorian Long, and Alex Payne answered the call with great efforts today. There is one remaining game left to play on this year’s schedule, and that will be against Woodlawn of Baton Rouge on Saturday February 23rd for the state championship.

Please report any corrections, omissions, and comments.  

The Shreveport Times had this article.