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Cathedral High falls to Oak Forest Academy in sudden death penalty kicks

By Bill Barksdale

NATCHEZ — Playing in front of more than 100 fans against district foe Oak Forest Academy Yellow Jackets, the Green Wave lost 6-5 in sudden death penalty kicks at home on Tuesday night. 

The district match was critical to both teams as brackets are being determined for South State playoffs.

Both coaches described the night as the finest game they had played all season.

“This was the best game of their lives, they played incredibly well and the intensity they showed today was unlike anything I’ve seen this season,” Dennis Hogue, Cathedral head coach, said. “If we could play this well all season we would be unstoppable. Every player on our team stepped their game up and played at a higher level. I’m super proud of them. They dug deep.”

Hogue said Cathedral was down two goals as the clock ticked down in the second half, and his players were able to close the deficit before regulation time expired.

With three minutes left in regulation, Jacob Moore tied the match and forced overtime. Moore scored the first goal for Cathedral in the match and freshman Logan Ellis scored the second goal.

For Oak Forest Academy, junior Dale Slay notched a hat trick, scoring all three goals for the Yellow Jackets.

“I was able to take advantage of the times when Cathedral’s defense became too spread out,” Slay said. “That opened up space for me to take a shot.”

Though Cathedral scored the first goal of the game, Slay answered almost immediately with a rocket shot past Cathedral goalkeeper Joseph Garrity. Avery Williams, Oak Forest Academy head coach, said Slay is a very special kid.

“He understands the game more than most and works hard at practice to perfect his skills,” Williams said. “He sometimes lets his emotions get the best of him.”

Cathedral knew that defense would be a key focus for them against Oak Forest. Before the game, Coach Hogue pulled the defense aside and told them how much was riding on their focus. “Our strategy was mostly to keep Oak Forest out of our goal,” Hogue said to his team. “The defense did a very good job at staying in their positions and protecting the goal. My philosophy is, ‘If they can’t score on us, they can’t beat us.’” 

That strategy also resulted in a huge number of shots-on-goal for Oak Forest, compared to only a few for Cathedral. The action stayed on the Cathedral goal during most of regulation, but the offense spread out more evenly during overtime.

Once penalty kicks began, the game was up for grabs. Both goal keepers were able to stop two penalty kicks out of seven, forcing a sudden death penalty round where Cathedral’s shot was stopped by the Oak Forest goalie. 

“With penalty kicks there is a certain amount of luck involved,” Hogue said. “Though the shooter requires skill, the keeper has a 50-50 chance of committing to the correct side of the goal.” 

Both Oak Forest goalkeepers did a good job of communicating down the field and refused to allow a point scored against them.

“We kept our heads up, kept good composure and didn’t give up,” Williams said. “We believed in one another and kept encouraging one another, and that is what really got us through to the W.”

The Green Wave (8-8-1) will host their final match against Adams County Christian School Rebels at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 11.