Trojans capture SMAC crown
With the conference crown on the line, Chase traveled to Shelby Wednesday night for a rematch with a team they bested 3-2 earlier in the season. That win was the programs first win over the Golden Lions, but by the time 80 minutes were played on a frigid night under the lights on Pearley Allen field, the Chase Trojans had their second win over Shelby and the school’s first SMAC 2A/3A conference championship.
“We’ve tried not to make too much of this game because we know we’ve been practicing and learning to play the game right,” Chase head coach Greg Deshommes said. “I just told them to come here and do what we have learned and whatever happens we’ll go on from there.”
A Nube Jimenez goal on a Preston Walker cross in the second half was all the Trojans needed to down the Golden Lions, 1-0.
“To win this conference means a lot to me, the school and the players,” Deshommes said after the win. “Shelby didn’t want to lose against Chase, but we didn’t come here to lose. We came here to win and we did it.”
Early on it was evident why these two teams were playing for the conference crown. Every run the Chase (15-2-1, 15-1 SMAC) forwards managed was hotly contested by Shelby (15-5, 14-2 SMAC) defenders while the only real scoring opportunities for Shelby came on free kicks and corner kicks.
Chase’s Nube Jimenez had the first chance of the night in just the second minute with a direst shot from 15 yards out that found the arms of Shelby goalie Will Bryant.
Six minutes later, Chase starters Lassana Fofana and Miguel Jimenez collided in the middle of the field and both lied on the field for a few minutes before making their way to the sidelines.
Shelby had a pair of quality opportunities the rest of the way in the first half but the teams went into the break tied, 0-0.
Shelby looked in sync in the second with two close calls in front of the Chase goal but the Chase defense and goalkeeper Ansoni Jimenez kept the Golden Lions out of the net.
“Most people like to look at offense, but I’m a defensive-minded coach,” Deshommes said. “I know that if we play good defense we’ll have chances to score.”
Then Walker hauled in a long pass down the far sideline before firing a cross that bounced of the leg of Nube Jimenez and past Bryant for the go-ahead score in the 63rd minute.
Shelby had two late corner kicks but the Trojans managed to avoid allowing the tying goal and took home a 1-0 win a conference title.
Chase and Shelby each await their first-round playoff opponents.
“Our focus right now is on the next game,” Deshommes said. “Right now we just want to win the next game. If it takes us to the very last game then we’ll worry about championships then.”