Shorthanded Rockets defeat Tigers 2-1
By Anthony S. Puca
The Forrest Rockets traveled to Marshall County High School on Thursday to take on the Tigers in an all important District 11 match-up and came way with a tough 2-1 victory. The Rockets (5-0-1) played shorthanded for the final 30 minutes of the second half after Morgan Abrigo was red carded and had to sit on the sidelines.
"When you are on the road, you have to keep your cool," Forrest Coach Dr. Larry Miller said, "Fortunately, we were able to survive."
Both teams come to play for district supremacy
The game was a tough physical, hard fought battle on both sides and the two teams left all they had on the pitch in Lewisburg. Forrest won the coin toss and elected to take the wind and it paid dividends as the Rockets controlled much of the action for the first 20 minutes.
The wind played havoc on the Tigers as every clearing kick seemed to come straight back towards the Tigers' end of the field. There were times when the ball would go no more than twenty yards on goal kicks.
As much as the wind hurt the home team, it helped the Rockets defense as they kicked with the 20-30 mph wind and got many opportunities deep in the Tigers' end of the field.
The Tigers had a great chance to score at 28:20 when Trey Russell hit a blast, but Rocket goaltender Devin O'Brien made a diving save to his right to save the goal.
Wind is important factor on
Rockets first goal
The Tiger defense held its own until Aron Alcala raced under a goal kick by Devin O'Brien that went at least sixty yards in the air and Alcala scored on a kick just out of the reach of standout Tiger net-minder Ethan Stewmon.
The Rockets made it two-nil at the 20:43 mark when Martin Becerra took a beautiful pass from Alcala and deposited it the Tiger net over the out-stretched arms of Stewmon.
Tiger's late goal changes tide of momentum
The momentum began to change as the Tigers pushed the ball forward into Rocket territory and began to put heavy pressure on the Rocket defense. MCHS almost scored on a corner kick with twelve minutes left and then struck pay dirt on a pretty goal by Connor Perryman with just three remaining in the first half.
The Tigers were fired up and knew they were squarely back in the game as the half ended with the Rockets holding a 2-1 lead.
Abrigo red card leaves Rockets shorthanded for most of 2nd half
The first ten minutes of the second half saw the action going from end to end as both squads tried to create the goal that would either decide the game for Forrest or tie the contest and bring the Tigers back.
With ten minutes left in the second half, Morgan Abrigo was red-carded in the Forrest box and sent to the sidelines for the remainder of the game. The onus was now on the Forrest defense to stop the Tigers from scoring the tying goal and they seemed to accept the challenge.
"That last 30 minutes playing shorthanded showed the heart of the team," Miller stated, "This team just has a great heart."
The Rockets muscled up on defense and tried in vain to limit the Tigers' chances on offense by clearing the ball out of the zone on every opportunity.
The home team did have some good chances in the half, but just could not manage to find the back of the net.
MCHS had a golden opportunity with just two minutes left when they had a penalty kick, but the ball sailed wide right and the Rockets managed to run out the clock and escape with the 2-1 victory.
MCHS coach Lisa Raffo said after the contest, "We played really well and I could not more proud of the team."
Asked about playing with a one man advantage for almost the entire second and not scoring, Raffo said," I don't know, it was just luck I guess."
For the soccer fans, the game was hard played on both sides and definitely measured up to the hype of the intense inter-county rivalry. Hopefully, the two squads will meet again in the district tournament which begins on May 5.