Pat Wall excels at keeping the ball out of the net, but the Dynamo Academy goalkeeper has been doing so from a different position this season for his high school team, Strake Jesuit. A starting centerback for the Crusaders, Wall showed off yet another part of his arsenal Tuesday night by scoring in Strake's 2-1 win over Katy in the Region III-5A quarterfinals at Crusader Stadium.
Strake (24-0-1), will face Clear Lake in the regional semifinals as part of a doubleheader Friday night at Deer Park's Abshier Stadium. The other semifinal pits Fort Bend Clements (24-1) against Katy Cinco Ranch. Strake's win ended the repeat hopes of defending Region III champion Katy, which had upset Strake in last year's playoffs, and Dynamo Academy midfielder Adrian Mendoza.
On Tuesday, Strake controlled the game but got most of its scoring opportunities via long throw-ins from impressive midfielder Michael Davidson and deadly delivery on free kicks and corner kicks from the right-footed Wall and the left-footed Jamie Garcia-Prats. The Crusaders opened the scoring in the 17th minute from a free kick. Wall had fired an earlier shot into the wall, but given a second chance, he let loose with a powerful blast, struck with his laces, into the top of the net from 26 yards for a 1-0 lead.
Katy came right back, however, with a set piece of its own. Defender Mikey Rodriguez floated a long ball into the box, and in the chaos that followed, one shot hit off the post, and Mendoza reached the rebound first, acrobatically touching it in with the outside of his right foot from close range. It was Mendoza's third playoff goal in as many games, as the junior sought an encore for the all-tournament honors he earned last year.
Strake regained the lead for good in the 23rd minute after Katy's sophomore sweeper Jourdin Swinford was booked for a foul on Strake's right flank. High school rules require players who receive a yellow card to leave the field, so Swinford was not on the field for the ensuing free kick. Garcia-Prats bent in one of his best deliveries of the day, and sophomore forward Kyle Ruck flicked a backward header into the net.
Ruck almost scored again just a minute later, but his looping header was cleared off the line, and Katy freshman Martin Acevedo saved Wall's stinging left-footed follow-up. Mendoza had two chances to tie the game from a free kick, one in each half, but he bent his first-half effort wide and aimed his second right at 6-foot-4 Strake junior Jason Taffet in goal.
The second half was more physical than the first, but there appeared to be few hard feelings on either side (toward each other, that is; the officials were not so lucky). Strake hit the crossbar twice from Wall corner kicks but could never extend its lead. Katy strung passes together in the midfield from time to time but rarely generated solid shooting threats. Strake eventually ran out the clock and celebrated with the fervent student section that had cheered them on all night.
Mendoza and Wall - who shared a half-hug in the second half when Mendoza started to get frustrated with the officiating - both played well on the night, and one real shame was that Dynamo Academy teammate Abe Matamoros, a junior forward at Strake and one of the Dynamo's leading scorers at the U-18 level, had to watch from the sideline with his arm in a sling.
Matamoros and Mendoza will both be back next year, but this is Wall's last hurrah at the high school level, and he is making the most of it from an unlikely spot.
vs. Strake Jesuit
March 30, 2010 – Crusader Stadium, Houston
UIL 5A Region III quarterfinals
SJ -- Pat Wall (unassisted) 17
Katy -- Adrian Mendoza (unassisted) 19
SJ -- Kyle Ruck (Jamie Garcia-Prats) 23
Katy -- Martin Acevedo, Chris Brelsford, Jourdin Swinford, Mikey Rodriguez, Arthur Hernandez, Roberto Montelongo, Matt Paquette, Adrian Mendoza, Diego Martinez, Jose Ruiz, Fernando Montelongo.
Substitutes: Gibran Martinez, Alexis Barbosa, Jordan Galloway.
Strake Jesuit -- Jason Taffet, Taylor Fletcher, Robert Greenberg, Pat Wall, Eric Lahart, Tarek Darouiche, Michael Davidson, Beau Grenier, Jamie Garcia-Prats, Robbe Tarver, Kyle Ruck.
Substitutes: Sami Darouiche, Beck DeSpain, Jordan Reilly, Kenny Lahart.
SJ -- Robbe Tarver (caution) 22
Katy -– Jourdin Swinford (caution) 22
SJ -- Michael Davidson (caution) 52
SJ -- James Garcia-Prats (caution) 63
Katy -- Roberto Montelongo (caution) 79
Katy –- Matt Paquette (caution) 79
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial