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Kresen Hat Trick, Cade's 50th Highlight Senior Night Win

phighlogo1Pop sports quiz: Which Paris High team sport has posted the best winning percentage over the past four years?

Boys basketball?  Good guess, but wrong.  The Cats have enjoyed seven straight 20-win seasons under head coach Billy Mack Steed with an impressive .742 winning percentage (95-33) over the past four seasons.

Baseball?  Another reasonable, but also wrong, answer.  Paris High was 71-31 (.696 percentage) entering the current baseball season.  With a challenging rebuilding year facing long-time head coach Bill Sikes, the baseball Cats probably won’t improve on that mark by season’s end.

Football.  Not even close.  The Cats will carry a 17-game district win streak into the 2014 football campaign, but they’re just 27-17 (.614 percentage) overall.

The correct answer is boys soccer, which is currently sitting on a 72-15-8 mark (.792 percentage) following Friday night’s 6-0 whipping of Greenville in a District 19-4A match at Wildcat Stadium.  Boys soccer?  That outdoor sport played in the dead of winter under bizarre weather conditions by crazy kids running around in their shorts?  And if you answered correctly, chances are good that you might be one of those handful of hearty family and friends who bundle up and drag your portable propane heaters into the mostly deserted stands to support those crazy kids.

If you were one of those hundred or so diehard spectators who witnessed the Wildcats’ 19th shutout of an outstanding 19-3-1 season, then you know the match was highlighted by three notable accomplishments:

  1. First, there was the 5oth career goal by senior Michael Cade.  It came just 11 minutes into the match on a play started by a through ball from midfielder Jesus Ruiz that Ben Whitaker settled near the goal line in time for a cross to a trailing Josh Kirby.  Two Greenville defenders converged on Kirby to disrupt his shot on goal, but Cade cleaned up the rebound to give Paris a 1-0 lead.  Cade would later get his 51st career and team-leading 22nd season goal to finish off the evening’s scoring.
  2. Senior Dylan Kresen scored a natural hat trick with goals at 19:38 and 6:55 of the first half and the first goal of the second half with 35:43 remaining.  It broke a 5-week personal scoring drought stretching over the course of 13 games for Kresen, who has been working his way back from injury problems.  Kresen scored 4 goals in the Cats’ first 10 games this season.
  3. A rare goal scored by a Cat defender and the first career goal by standout junior Leonel Gutierrez, who picked the pocket of a Lion midfielder and made a skillful 40-yard run to get off a shot that found the net.

It all added up to a memorable Senior Night for the 17 members of the Class of 2014 who have been a big part of that nearly 80% success rate achieved during their tenure at Paris High.  Cade’s milestone goal follows on the heals of that same 50-goal plateau achieved by classmate and close friend Blake Beshirs in Tuesday’s storm-shortened, 2-0 victory over crosstown rival North Lamar.  Had Mother Nature not interceded, chances are good that both 4-year starters would have notched their 50th in the same match.

The hat trick by Kresen was an encouraging sign for a Cat offense that suddenly went MIA the previous week.  Paris produced just a single goal in regulation play and was forced into shootouts in back-to-back matches with main district rivals Sulphur Springs and Princeton.  The Cats won the shootout vs. SSHS, but lost to Princeton.  Although the Cats still lead the district at 6-1 with 18 points, their recent inability to finish off attacks on goal gave district opponents some optimism that Paris is not a lock for this year’s title.

If Paris coach Jeremy Beshirs can get renewed production from Kresen (7 season goals) and seniors Whitaker and Kirby (9 goals each), then the Cats might be headed for their second district title in three years and a prolonged playoff run.  In the meantime, he has made a change in offensive philosophy in the last two matches, alternating son Blake and Cade in forward attacking roles in an attempt to stretch opposing defenses who were clogging the midfield area by marking both Beshirs and Cade..

It worked Tuesday with Beshirs getting both goals in the 2-0 win over NL, and Cade got the Cats off to a fast start Friday with his first goal with 29:02 remaining in the first half.

Then Kresen took over the finisher’s role.  His first goal came with 19:38 until halftime on a penalty kick awarded when he was taken down inside the 18-yard box.  He easily beat the Greenville goalkeeper with a shot to the goalie’s right.  Kresen goal No. 2 came with 6:55 before intermission.  Beshirs attacked the right flank by passing to a streaking Kirby deep in the corner.  Kirby fired a cross toward the net where both Kresen and Cade were waiting.  Kresen flicked the ball into the net from 8 yards out.

That made it a 3-0 halftime lead for Paris although the score could have been much higher.  The porous Greenville defense gave away numerous turnovers which led to excellent scoring chances.

Kresen almost had the hat trick before halftime, but it took just 4:17 after the break to notch goal No. 3.  Beshirs, this time operating on the left wing, sent a cross into the middle that Kresen caught up to in stride to strike into the net behind the goalie, who guessed wrong on his dive.  It was now a 4-0 lead.

Another subtle recent change in offensive philsophy by the Cats has been the green light Beshirs, the coach, is giving his stellar defensive line to become involved in the offense.  Specifically, two of his more skilled players, sophomore Alfredo Medina and the speedy Gutierrez have been allowed to make long runs whenever they’re in position for a counter-attack.  Gutierrez, as the Paris center back, normally acts as a free safety choking off any opposing breakaways and funneling the ball out of harm’s way, but his quickness and ball-handling skills can be an unexpected weapon for any team focused on stopping the Beshirs-Cade tandem.

Gutierrez stole the ball at midfield and left six Lions flat-footed in his wake on a remarkable 40-yard sustained run before sending the ball across the goalmouth inside the far post with 23:36 left in the match.  His first career goal extended the Paris lead to 5-0.

Beshirs was the catalyst for the final goal.  He ran down a long through ball in front of the net, joustled for position on the right wing with a Lion defender, then turned and sent a cross toward the far post.  Kirby back-headed the cross with two defenders on his back, and Cade was perfectly positioned for the scoring volley off the bounce with 2:55 remaining.  It was goal No. 22 this season and 51 for his career.

Paris senior goalies Angel Rocha and Jesus Herrera each took a half in goal, but neither was forced to make a save.  Coach Beshirs substituted freely, especially in the second half, giving his seniors playing time on their special night.  The senior class also includes Zane Young, Whitaker, Kresen, Jackson Reeves, Christian Gil, Beshirs, Cade, Cody Redus, Alfredo Gonzales, Gustavo Luna, Victor Guzman, Lee Leija, Diego Torres, Alfredo Gonzales, and Kirby.

So a rejuvenated Wildcats soccer team heads into the final three district games with renewed scoring confidence.  They get a encore home match Monday in a varsity doubleheader appearance with the Lady Cats vs. Bonham at Wildcat Stadium.  The matches were originally scheduled to be played in Bonham, but the Purple Warriors’ home turf is under reconstruction and unavailable.  The girls match begins at 5:30 with the the boys getting underway around 7.

In a side note, the UIL is expected to announce realignment for soccer in the coming days, creating a third conference classification for that sport.  It will enable Paris and other current Class 3A schools to compete on a more level playing field, but it will come a year too late for the current crop of seniors.

There was no JV match Friday because Greenville fields only a varsity team this season.

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