Crusaders tie Bobcats 1-1 in regular season finaleBy ANDREW ABADIE,
Despite finishing the game in a 1-1 tie, Sacred Heart and Sumrall entered the Thursday night matchup with each having a different agenda.
For the Bobcats, their agenda was trying to maintain positive momentum to finish the season and for the Crusaders the game was preparation for another playoff run.
In the game itself, Sumrall (8-11-2) took an early 1-0 lead Graham Rodney scored on a setup from Benson Trussell 14th minute of the game.
“We worked a lot on driving the flanks, driving the ball near the post and trying to find those slot backs,” Sumrall head coach Todd Siders said. “A good job moving the goalkeeper over and finding graham at the top of the box open. He had a good first touch and was able to finish it.
“I thought in the first half about 20 minutes in, we really took control of the game and left some opportunities out there. We made some subs and the communication started to lack and go out of shape and [Sacred Heart] took advantage of it.”
Sacred Heart got on the board just before halftime in the 33rd minute with Logan Galaher finding an opening to tie the game.
“The goal we gave up was just a lack of marking on the backside,” Siders said. “They’ll swing and miss which has plagued us at times. We left a guy unmarked and we know what you are supposed to do when you get the ball in the box like that.”
Neither team was able to find much of an opening with Sumrall outshooting Sacred Heart 4-2 in the second half.
The game for the Crusaders (10-2-3) was an opportunity to test their bench before the playoffs with nine players missing the game due to March for Life.
“It was perfect opportunity to get some players that needed some playing time,” Sacred Heart head coach Joe Fall Jr. said. “We needed a little fitness work and we needed some confidence. That’s what we did. These guys have been working hard all year and this was their platform to do it.
“Our fitness level is strong. Everything that we’ve been working on throughout the whole year we were able to really see especially with those guys that have limited playing time already. They came out here and demonstrated that they can play.”
Sumrall will finish its season against Northeast Jones on Friday. According to Siders, tying Sacred Heart was a positive for his team.
“It’s a positive when you look at building this program forward,” Siders said. “Just challenging them to finish the season well. We have had some bad luck. We have had some unfortunate things. Kudos to Joe. He talked about their conditioning before the game. It’s evident even though they are young.”
The Crusaders will host in the first round of the 1A/2A/3A playoffs and look to defend its state title. According to Falla, the main key for his team’s success will be in its experience.
“A lot of my seniors [leadership and experience] but not just the seniors but they players who are seasoned and who have been in this atmosphere for a long time,” Falla said. “They know what to expect and it’s not their first time. We worked hard for this with what we call the third season. I think we are ready. Our fitness is good. Our mental preparation is good so we’ll be ready.”
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