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Soccer: Rivalry renewed – Decatur and Bridgeport square off for district title

By Reece Waddell | Published Saturday, March 17, 2018
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When Bridgeport and Decatur meet on the pitch Tuesday in Bridgeport, there will be much more than bragging rights on the line.

The District 3-4A title will also be at stake.

Having split the season series to this point, the Bulls and Eagles enter the district finale separated by a razor’s edge in the standings. Bridgeport is 6-1-1 in league play while Decatur is 7-1.

If the Bulls win, they will repeat as district champions. If the Eagles win or tie, they will claim their first district title in school history.

“We’re excited,” said Decatur coach Christopher Benjamin. “The guys are really excited that they have an opportunity to make history here at Decatur soccer. We have yet to win a district title.”

Decatur has won five straight matches, including a 2-1 victory over Bridgeport at home on March 2. The Eagles’ last loss came on Feb. 20 against the Bulls.

Although Bridgeport won their first meeting 5-0, Benjamin said the score was not indicative of how close the match actually was. Both teams battled a heavy, cold rain.

“If you weren’t at the game you kind of didn’t get to see the full story,” Benjamin said. “It was really windy in one direction. Four of their goals came in the first half. We basically played them to a draw in the second half, other than a goal in the last minute of the game.”

The Bulls are focused on getting healthy. Bridgeport coach C.J. Cartwright said forward Juan Amador, who did not play in the 2-1 loss, should be ready to go on Tuesday. Amador missed that game with an ankle injury.

Defender Giovanni Martinez was also out. Cartwright said he does not expect Martinez to be available. He is battling a severe ankle sprain that left him in a walking boot.

Cartwright said the goal is to have him back in time for the playoffs.

The Eagles dictated tempo and possession in the midfield in their 2-1 win, something Bridgeport knows it will have to counter this time around.

“Their midfield is really where I think they win their games,” Cartwright said. “Their midfielders are strong on the ball. They pass and move the ball well to skilled players. I think for the most part it was a numbers issue – getting the right people in the right portion of the field to help neutralize what they do well, and that’s possession in the midfield.”

The Bulls must beat Decatur in order to snag their second district title in as many years. If Bridgeport finishes second, Cartwright said they would likely earn a rematch with Brownwood in the bi-district round of the playoffs. The Bulls beat Brownwood 5-1 last year.

“They’re aware of the situation,” Cartwright said. “I’m trying not to focus on ‘We have to beat Decatur.’ They know that. [I’m trying to] not necessarily emphasize the situation so much and put that added pressure on them. They know that the deal is.”

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