February 1, 2009
Adam Minichino - firstname.lastname@example.org
CALEDONIA -- Togetherness is an essential ingredient to the Caledonia High School boys soccer team''s success.
The Confederates have talked all season about using their familiarity with each other to their advantage.
Years of playing together have given the Confederates a comfort level and a second sense of where their teammates will be on any given play.
Seth Wood sure knows how to drive that point home.
The senior midfielder, who had a goal called back in the first half due to a foul, timed a run perfectly to put the icing on Caledonia''s 3-0 victory against Hernando on Saturday in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs.
"I thought we played two halves tonight," Caledonia coach Morgan Mansfield said. "Against New Albany (on Tuesday), we played one half and got a reality check in the second half and decided we would step it up in the second half. Today, you get that win under your belt, your back home, and you have more fans, and they played a big factor, but I thought we played for 80 minutes."
The victory pushes Caledonia (14-4) into a match on the road against Pearl, which scored three times in the second half to beat West Lauderdale 3-2, at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The winner will represent the North half in the state final Feb. 6 at Mississippi College.
Taylor Chisolm scored the first two goals to help the Confederates continue their journey into uncharted territory.
"Our midfield pretty much dominated today," Chisolm said. "If you win the midfield, you you normally win the game."
Caledonia''s victory against New Albany marked the first time the boys soccer program had advanced past the first round.
Chisolm, who scored five goals against New Albany, again provided the spark against Hernando. The senior striker converted a penalty kick after a hand ball in the box was called with a little more than 4 minutes remaining in the first half.
"I have always been really good at PKs, and I felt the team really needed the spark," Chisolm said. "I felt I had to put it in that way we could build up on it. I kicked it straight down the middle, but it was in the back of the net. I was just glad I could provide a spark of energy."
The goal set a new single-season school record for goals, breaking a tie with Aaron Jenkins.
Hernando (11-4) had its best scoring opportunities in the first half. Justin Holland slipped a pass to the right and behind the defense. Andrew Young used his speed to control the ball on the wing, but his well-struck shot went wide of the far post.
Nearly 10 minutes later, Hernando almost scored off a restart. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Patrick Fields'' shot deflected off the left post and bounded back into the box. Young collected the loose ball, but goalkeeper Tyler Aldridge easily handled his shot.
Hernando tried to pick up the pace at the start of the second half. Caledonia, though, snuffed our any chances by controlling the midfield and not giving Hernando enough time or space to chip the ball over its defense.
Caledonia held a 10-7 edge in shots.
Mansfield, who coached the past three seasons at Horn Lake, used his experience coaching against Hernando to devise a game plan for the Tigers. The midfield responded by winning a majority of the 50-50 balls and preventing Hernando from going through the middle of the field to generate offense.
"I knew if we stepped up in that area we would be fine," Mansfield said.
Caledonia continued to step up in the second half. Whether it was stopper Cory Hayes moving forward to use his head to punch a ball back into the offensive third or Kye Van-Someren moving up to deliver a ball to Brandon Webber, the Confederates won possession when they needed to.
Hayes'' move forward put Chisolm in play and gave him an opportunity to capitalize on a deflection. With two defenders trying to push him to the left, Chisolm did a rollover and cut the ball back to his right and tucked the ball into the lower left corner with 24:35 left in the match.
Caledonia put the game away with the prettiest goal of the afternoon with 15:37 left. Van-Someren''s came up from defense to win possession. Webber collected the pass and had enough time and space to cross the ball to the back post, where Wood crashed in to knock the ball home.
"He sent me an incredible cross," Wood said. "I couldn''t have got that goal without that cross."
Wood and Chisolm credited the defense of goalkeeper Tyler Aldridge and defenders Hayes, Zack Boyer, and Nick May.
"We couldn''t do any of what we have done without our defense," Wood said. "They have held it on lockdown out there."
Chisolm praised the play of midfielders Webber, Wood, Kevin Kugel, and Tyler Pounders for doing the work the Confederates needed to advance.
With Chisolm bringing it all together and Wood working hard to get where he needs to be on the weak side, all Caledonia needs to do is to stick to its formula and it could realize its goal of having a chance to play for a state title.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.