Wildcats continue ‘Strong’ start topple Thibodaux 3-1
Published 12:00 am Friday, December 12, 2008
By RYAN ARENA
Dechris Strong scored two goals and Leroy Noble added another as East St. John rolled to a 3-1 victory over Thibodaux on Tuesday at Thibodaux.
Strong scored his first goal of the evening in the first half to make it 1-0, which was the halftime score.
Thibodaux tied things up early in the second half on a penalty kick.
“We played better once they tied it,” said East St. John Coach Paul Dupuy. “That got us going a little bit.”
Strong added his second goal midway through the second half to put ESJ (6-3) ahead 2-1. Noble would add the team’s third goal, which allowed the Wildcats to concentrate on defense.
“That sealed it for us,” said Dupuy.
Played on a rainy day, the game was a different kind of test for East St. John. The muddy field conditions negated the speed advantage that the Wildcats hold on so many teams.
“We gave them some chances, had a few breakdowns defensively that we couldn’t recover from as quickly,” said Dupuy. “But we survived. I’m excited to see us playing a little better defensively, but I want to see more improvement before we hit district play.”
Twice, the Wildcats saw potential goals negated on throw ins — the ball would go in the net off of an inbounds throw, but no Wildcat made contact with the ball before it crossed through to the net.
But Strong cashed in on his opportunities — the sophomore is becoming one of Dupuy’s most reliable offensive weapons.
“He’s having something of a breakout year,” Dupuy said. “He’s really starting to come into his own, and realizing that he doesn’t have to do it all himself. Last year, he might take the ball up by himself and lose a battle at the end. Now, he’ll pass that ball and convert when he gets it back.
“He’s got great quickness, and an ability to take it around the edge.”
East St. John also competed at the Pearl River tournament over the weekend, where it won two games and lost one.
The Wildcats first notched a 5-0 win over St. Charles. Strong scored two goals. Tyler Hazet scored two more. Antonio Guerrero added another.
“They played a tough game against us,” said Dupuy. “I think they were a little overmatched by our speed.”
East St. John would move on to face East Jefferson, notching a 3-1 victory. Strong, Guerrero and Diduvaldo Atubel each scored a goal.
East Jefferson scored a quick goal to lead 1-0 early on, but Strong tied the game with a goal before halftime. Guerrero and Atubel put the team ahead for good in the second half.
But the Wildcats missed the finals by two points due to its only loss, a 5-4 decision to Pope John Paul II.
East St. John led 1-0, but the Jaguars scored four straight goals to seize the advantage.
“Our defense broke down in a hurry,” said Dupuy.
“The Wildcats closed the gap to 4-3, but PJP II added another goal that created enough separation for the Jaguars to hammer out the win.
Strong scored two goals. Guerrero and Hazet each added one.
Dupuy said that even with the early flurry of goals by Pope John Paul, his team had its opportunities.
“We outshot them pretty handily,” he said. “We kept shooting, shooting, shooting, and missing. We had open looks, and we didn’t make them count.”