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TJ posts close victory over Goretti

September 14, 2000

TJ posts close victory over Goretti



By DAN KAUFFMAN / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer

Thomas Johnson over GorettiBoth No. 1 Thomas Johnson and St. Maria Goretti got what they wanted in Thursday's boys soccer tilt.

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Goretti managed to keep the game close despite the Patriots' severe pressure through the first half and eventually tied the game in the second half, proving the winless Gaels can compete with any team.

Thomas Johnson boarded the bus for home with an expected, yet difficult 2-1 victory in its possession.

"We're pleased to come away with the win," Patriots coach Brett Height said. "We walk away with a 'W', but we also walk away with things to work on in practice."

"(We) needed to realize earlier that you can play with anyone if you do the work," Gaels coach Marty Wills said. "We weren't working as hard as we needed to in the first half.

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It was a first half that saw TJ take the lead less than 10 minutes in on Bryan Cain's penalty kick after being tripped up in the box. The Patriots (2-0-1) had several other opportunities in the half, but were stymied by Goretti keeper Tyler Weneck, as well as a couple shots that glanced off crossbars.

"Tyler kept us in the game," Wills said. "He stepped up and stayed focused on doing his job."

Goretti (0-5) kept TJ in check until, midway through the second half, Gaels left wing David Sabino made a run on a counterattack before finding Ben Hood in the middle. Hood's spinning, right-footed shot bounced past surprised Patriots keeper Eric Ferguson, tying the game at 1-1 and sending TJ a wake-up call.

"It wasn't as much a shock as a realization that we needed to step it up," Patriots attacker Joey Higbee said.

TJ once again applied pressure in Goretti's end, and with five minutes left, finally capitalized on a corner kick from Cain that sailed across the box to Higbee.

"It was a perfect assist, a perfect kick," Higbee said. "I just tried to get to it."

He got to it and sunk the Gaels' upset bid with a header into the top right corner for the winning score.

"It was just a matter of time before that one fell in," Wills said.

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