In a non-conference battle of high school soccer heavyweights, the Charlotte Catholic Cougars shut out the South Mecklenburg Sabres 3-0 at home on Wednesday. The surprisingly easy Catholic win snapped an eight-game Sabres’ win streak in which South Meck impressively hadn’t allowed a goal.
But scoring was no problem for Catholic Wednesday, as the Cougars scored two goals in the first 10 minutes of the match and all three in the first half. Senior striker/midfielder Ryan Biyadi led the charge, setting up the first two Catholic goals and scoring the third on a penalty kick.
“We knew we were capable of it if we all came out and played,” said Biyadi when asked if he envisioned being able to dominate a strong team like South Meck. “I knew we were going to go out and perform as we’ve been working for this all season. We’re motivated this year. Last year we went out in the second round as the first seed. We want that first seed and we want to win it all this year.”
Catholic scored five minutes into the contest when Biyadi headed the ball in the box to an open Andrew Kanney who slotted the ball home for a 1-0 Catholic lead.
The Cougars made it 2-0 five minutes later when Biyadi sent a perfect through-ball to Patrick Fenton who had gotten behind the South Meck defense. Fenton calmly scored Catholic’s second goal -- and the strike had the Sabres on their heels early.
In the 23rd minute, it was Biyadi’s turn to score. Fenton was pulled down in the box on a breakaway and the referee immediately awarded the Cougars a penalty kick. Biyadi calmly stepped up and scored into the upper right-hand corner of the South Meck goal for the 3-0 advantage. Catholic from that point never looked back.
“We obviously knew that South Meck was the team to beat at this point in the 4A,” said Catholic Coach Oscar Del Pino. “Our guys were expecting a battle as this game has been since I’ve been here almost 18 year ago. To be honest I think we had a couple of things bounce here and there to get us up to three (goals). We have all the respect in the world for the South (Meck) team and I don’t know if 3-0 is a fair reflection of the effort that the teams put out, but obviously we’ll take it.”
RECORDS: South Meck (11-3-1) Charlotte Catholic (14-0-2)
THREE WHO MATTERED:
(Ryan Bayadi – Charlotte Catholic) Senior striker / midfielder helped lead the monster first half for the Cougars with a goal (PK) and two assists, figuring in all three Catholic goals.
(Bennett Lowder – Catholic) Senior goalkeeper was not heavily tested but pitched a shutout behind a stout Cougars’ defense while facing five shots and making three saves.
(Bassidy Sylla – South Meck) Senior forward / midfielder was the most dangerous player offensively for South Meck, leading the Sabres with two shots on goal and forcing Catholic goalie Bennett Lowder to make a brilliant save early in the first half to deny what appeared to be a sure goal.
THEY SAID IT: “It’s a great feeling. I can’t put it on myself as you know we have the whole team effort going on here. It feels good to make a good save and have a good game. I’m just glad I could do well for my team.” Catholic goalkeeper Bennett Lowder on earning a shutout and making a key save in the first half.
Wednesday’s win was the Cougars’ 10th straight while extending their unbeaten streak in regulation to 16 games.
The best chance for South Meck came early in the first half when a favorable bounce ended up on the foot of Sabres’ forward Bassidy Sylla, who was wide open from in close. It took a beautiful save from Catholic goalie Bennett Lowder to thwart the dangerous scoring opportunity.
South Meck’s five-star recruit, forward Adam Charlton, recently returned to the Sabres’ lineup after missing a month of the season due to injury.
In the junior varsity matchup, Catholic shut out South Meck 1-0 with the game’s lone goal scored by the Cougars’ Nick Potter.
UP NEXT: South Meck will take on Berry Academy on the road on Tuesday, while Catholic will host Cuthbertson this coming Monday.
C – Andrew Kanney (goal) – Ryan Bayadi (assist)
C – Patrick Fenton (goal) – Ryan Bayadi (assist)
C – Ryan Bayadi (goal) - Penalty Kick