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CHHS looks to knock out St. Pauls

Today, the Charles Henderson soccer team will travel down I-65 to Mobile where it will meet the St. Paul’s Episcopal School in the second round of the 5A tournament.

The Trojans got to this point in the season thanks to a dramatic win in penalty kicks over Gulf Shores High School Tuesday night at CHHS.

This will be the first meeting between the two schools this season, however, in 2009, the team played with CHHS coming away with a 1-0 victory.

That same year, the Saints finished with the most wins in school history with 17 and also advanced to its first Final Four since 1991.

This year, after breaking the wins mark again with a 23-4-1 record, St. Paul’s advanced to the playoff where it defeated a team CHHS is very familiar with in Carroll in the first round 6-1.

Head coach Olaf Lieb said to learn about the upcoming opponent, he has been reviewing last year’s tape.

“They have pretty much the same team coming back, so we have been looking at the different things to focus on.

“Most of the areas I saw them excel in are the same areas where we have greatly improved in. I feel very confident that if we play the way we played (against Gulf Shores) we have a very good shot at beating St. Paul’s,” the coach added.

Lieb said his team was mentally exhausted after the adrenaline high it experienced with its 2-1 win in penalty kicks over the Dolphins.

The rest of the week has been pretty easy going, according to the coach, with the hopes that it will reenergize his players.

“I gave them the day off on Wednesday and have had light practices for much of the week, he said.

“Hopefully, by keeping them relaxed, it will help them get their strength back.”

As far as game strategy for the second round matchup, Lieb pointed out that not too much will change from how the team has been playing recently.

“We won’t be changing too much,” the coach said.

“I have addressed the team about creating earlier opportunities and playing harder earlier in the game but what I really am trying for is to keep the team loose and relaxed so that hopefully, they bring the same kind of intensity to the field we saw on Tuesday night.”

After the win over Gulf Shores, there was some dispute on the Dolphins side that the CHHS field was not AHSAA regulation, however, after further review, the field met the minimum requirements set by the association,” according to the coach.

“The field is on the minimum side of regulation size. We play on a much smaller field than most, which means that passes have to be more accurate,” Lieb said.

“But that’s why they call it home field advantage,” he said with a laugh. “We play and practice on this field everyday, so we know what to expect with it.”

With the Trojans playing on the Saints’ field, Lieb believes that may be a helping factor for his tea,

“With a bigger field, there is more room for our guys to do more.

“This will allow us to hopefully control the ball, which will help us create more scoring opportunities,” he added.

Regardless of scoring opportunities, there is one key in Lieb’s mind to his team getting its second postseason win this week.

“As long as we replicate the intensity from the last game, and stay focused like we did, I feel like we have a very good chance of stepping off that field victorious,” he said.

The match between Trojans and the Saints will get underway at 3 p.m. today in Mobile.