By R. Alan Richardson
This one was a heartbreaker. “It was all you could ask for in a Top-10, undefeated, Region Championship Game. We put it all on the line and came up one penalty kick short. We couldn’t have played any harder. It was highly disappointing,” said Coach Aaron Paul.
The Morgan County soccer squad traveled to Jefferson this week with a Region Championship on the line. The Dragons, in one poll, were ranked ninth and the Dogs right behind at number 10. It would be the third straight title for the boys if they could have pulled it off. It couldn’t have been closer than a 0-0 tie through regulation, another 0-0 tie after 15 more minutes of overtime that ended in penalty kicks. “We blocked one of theirs and they blocked one of ours, but when they blocked our last attempt, I think that’s what sealed it for them.” The tally was 6-5 after the PK’s. It doesn’t get any closer than that. What a finish it was, according to Paul.
He went on to say, “This one could have gone either way. Both teams had several opportunities to score in regulation and overtime, but the keepers did a great job. Collin Sitzman was fantastic in the net for us to keep us in it. It was hairpin close and as even as you could get. If we played again, I think we could beat them, but we don’t get that luxury now.”
Morgan will now take on Hart County for the second seed coming out of 8-AAA. That game is a rescheduled game from an earlier rain out and will be played April 10. It is also pegged to be the second try at having the Bulldogs’ Senior Night.
Paul, in his fifth year at the helm of the program, has taken them to new heights. The Dogs are coming off back-to-back 8-AAA Region Championships and a Sweet 16 finish a year ago where they were taken out by Calhoun, a team that made it to the Finals. They were defeated, of course, by Westminster. MOCO has accumulated a stellar 8-2-1 record and are now 4-1 in the Region.
“We are now looking at Spring Break with time for some much-needed rest. After all the rain outs and cancellations in February and March, we have been stacking games up trying to play catch up. After the break we will have five more regular season games with Apalachee, Hart, Eastside, Lanier, and Oconee. I would like to say a big “THANK YOU” to the Board of Education, our Superintendent, and our Athletic Director for making the change to have our break much earlier than in past years. It has been a huge help to the spring teams and coaches. Now, instead of returning the week after the break to go right into the playoffs, we will have some time to really prepare for the most important part of our season; the playoffs,” said Paul.
He ended the conversation with, “I told our kids that we are right where we want to be. We have good players and are focusing very hard on our team mentality and goals now. Our five senior starters along with some talented underclassmen and a solid JV give us a good opportunity to compete in this year’s playoffs and for many years in the future.”