Charlotte Catholic didn’t dare forget its motivation to lock down the SoMeck 4A soccer title.
The Cougars clinched the league’s top seed on Wednesday with a 3-0 win against Providence at Keffer Stadium to sweep the season series a season after losing three to the Panthers last year. Brendan McDonough scored a pair of goals and an assist to give the Cougars (18-2-1, 13-1) all the momentum they needed. Providence finished (16-4-1, 11-3).
“They had us three times last year and they beat us all three times,” Catholic coach Oscar Del Pino said. “Believe me, we certainly didn’t forget it.”
Catholic broke in front on McDonough’s goal in the 30th minute with Jason Rioux providing the assist. McDonough fielded Rioux’s pass on the right wing and spun away from the defense to launch a right-footed rocket that landed in the upper goal. McDonough struck again in the 33rd minute by racing past the Panthers’ defense to catch up to Ben Stockley’s pass for a left-footed shot from 10 yards out and a 2-0 Cougars advantage.
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“It was definitely a huge momentum-changer,” said McDonough, who has verbally committed to Georgetown. “The first one was like keep the momentum going. The next one was kind of a scrappy one. I managed to outwork (the defense) and just slid the ball home.
McDonough had a hand in Catholic’s third goal with a pass to Jordan Poff that was converted into a ripping shot off the right wing from 8 yards out.
“That kid’s a fantastic player,” Providence coach Paul Modine said. “It’s one of those things where you can’t stop a player like that. You can only hope to slow him down a little. Players like that are going to get theirs, what we’ve got to do is hopefully respond and get ours back as a team.”
Catholic’s aggressive offense paid big dividends as the Cougars pressed the attack throughout the match. Even after pulling ahead, Catholic maintained the momentum by moving the ball into Providence’s end of the field.
“We wanted this game especially after Monday (a 2-1 loss at Ardrey Kell),” Del Pino said. “We had a little bit of a look past your opponent, a quality opponent on Senior Night at Ardrey Kell. We were looking at this game already, but we came in knowing we owned our destiny.”
Providence goalkeeper Austin Kent and Catholic’s Sean Pratt took turns turning in masterful stops early in the match before McDonough’s breakthrough to turn the momentum. As the game went on, Catholic’s defensive prowess bottled up the Panthers’ attack by swarming to the center of the field.