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By Robert Alan Richardson sports staff

Morgan’s girls’ soccer squad took a major step in the right direction by winning their first region game of the season defeating Jackson County 4-1 this past Tuesday at home. Morgan now stands at 1-0 in region play after the impressive win. Coach Anne Stamps told me before the match that this game was very important for positioning in Region 8-AAA play and gaining momentum going into the long stretch of 7 region matches.

The Lady Dogs dominated the game offensively and defensively from the very outset, and had possession on the Morgan side of the field for the majority of the first half. Morgan had a ton of shots on goal that went wide, high, or were thwarted by their goalie. Morgan drew first blood at the 18:05 mark when Madison Evans took the ball down the right side and pooched a lob shot over the outstretched arms of Jackson’s goalie making the score 1-0. Jackson tied the score with some great passing and footwork when they went ¾ of the field to make it 1-1. However, left footer Annie Akins put the Dogs up with 8:55 remaining in the half when she hooked one into the deep right corner of the goal.

The teams went into the half with Morgan leading 2-1. The second half was all Lady Dogs as the girls put on a clinic coming away with two scores and completely shutting down the Panther offense in an impressive display of soccer. After three great opportunities to score in the opening minutes of the second half, captain and junior Anslyn Stamps nailed another hooking kick that sailed over the goalie’s head and into the net making the score 3-1 at the 32:52 mark. After a number of shots missed, Susanna Peppers stuck one into the deep right corner to seal the win 4-1.

The passing was crisp and on-point, shots on goal outnumbered Jackson by a wide margin, and the overall aggressive play was outstanding. Erin Miller was excellent in the goal and Morgan Money played extremely well on defense along with several others. Coach Stamps was able to empty the bench and saw action from starters Frances Smith, Lacy Campbell, Mackenzi Barrett, Elizabeth Stephens, and Amanda Anderson as well as substitutes Caroline Smith, Landry Wood, Evan Peppers, Morgan Walker, and Kourtney Kinchen. After the game Coach Stamps made these comments, “Every player had an opportunity to contribute to the success of the game, and they did. Four different players scored so if other teams know we have multiple players who are an offensive threat, it spreads the field and makes us dangerous offensively. This was a good start for us tonight in our region schedule, but we have to put it behind us and concentrate on a very tough Oconee County team March 27th.” Second year assistant coach Kerri Powell agreed with Coach Stamps when asked a question about who the team’s most consistent players have been, “I’d have to say that Susanna Peppers and Anslyn Stamps have as they have scored the majority of our goals this season.”

Following the game, the MCHS boys’ soccer team also entered into their first region game against Jackson County hoping to come away with a big win, but it was not to be. The game ended in a 3-0 loss for the Dogs to put them at 0-1 in region play. Both teams played a very physical game, but the superlative skill of the visitors was more than the team could overcome. Early in the contest the boys had a hard time getting any shots on goal as the opponents simply squashed any rally ideas when the Dogs had a breakaway or sideline run. I heard Coach Aaron Paul hollering on the sideline, “Offense we gotta get some shots.” Captain and keeper, Matthew Cantero, and the defense made several great saves in the half to keep the game close. The first score by Jackson was actually produced on a lucky bounce. After a Jackson shot that was fired at the left corner hit the goalpost, it bounced off a Morgan player into the goal producing what is called an onside goal (Thanks Anne Stamps and Steve Cisson) making it 1-0 with 33:06 remaining in the half.

Later in the half at the 11:22 mark, a Jackson player sizzled a long shot on a strong kick by Morgan’s keeper to put them up 2-0. The rest of the first period was scoreless with both squads battling for possession and playing great defense. The second half saw Jackson County put up another score to end the game 3-0. Overall the Dogs played much better on both ends of the field with a greater percentage of shots on offense and better defense limiting the talented Panthers to 1 goal. Key players in the game for Morgan were Cantero, Luke Biscoglia, and Ricky Mendez of offense while Henry Smith, Andrew Bishop, Evan Watkins, and Nathan Lundy were solid and aggressive on defense. Other starters for the game included Carter Atchison, Tristin Sewell, Nick Seymour, and Andrew Watkins. Members of the team also included Hogan Tuell, David Cuesta, Simon Newton, Russ Page, Ravi Patel, J.R. Guinn, and Sam Kuperberg.

Coach Aaron Paul made these remarks after the game, “I’m not making excuses, but we were not 100 percent tonight due to illness and injuries. Really, the game should have been 2-0 without the onside goal and I thought we gave a good effort other than the first few minutes of the game. The offense had a difficult time getting into position to take shots, and we only had 2-3 really good looks on the goal. If you take 10 shots per game you expect to get at least one, but with the few shots we managed you can’t expect much offensive output. We actually won the second half holding them scoreless. You never like to lose, but the guys have shown improvement and they executed our game plan well tonight. The boys are now 3-4-1 on the season with a very important region matchup Friday against always tough Oconee County. Oconee may be one of the best if not the best team in AAA in 2015.

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