The Marshall County Tigers soccer team ended five years of frustration on Thursday by defeating archrival Forrest 1-0 in Lewisburg.
After playing to a 1-1 draw in their lone encounter last season, the two teams appeared headed for another stalemate on Thursday after neither squad scored through the first 69 minutes of action. MCHS senior striker D.J. Brown, however, broke the deadlock a few moments later when he scored an unassisted goal in the 70th minute to give the Tigers the 1-0 victory.
Thursday's triumph over the Rockets marked the first time that Marshall County (4-1, 2-1 District) has beaten Forrest since March 30, 2004, when the Tigers pulled out a 5-3 victory in Chapel Hill.
"I'm ecstatic. It's been long awaited," said MCHS senior striker Sam Estes. "The last couple of years we were close, but we lost our heads at the end. We learned from those two games and today we showed more maturity."
The Rockets (4-2-1, 2-1 District) had averaged 3.2 goals per game in their last five contests, but Tiger sweeper Jose Padilla and the rest of Marshall County's back line stymied Forrest's offensive attack and helped limit FHS to 16 shots on goal.
"Their back sweeper really gave us fits," said Rocket coach Elliot Cook, who is a graduate of MCHS and a former Tiger player. "We just couldn't make a run around him. We had a few good scoring chances, but we didn't capitalize. In soccer you don't get many scoring opportunities so you have to make them count. I wanted to win this one bad. I played here, but I'm the coach at Forrest and these are my boys now."
Marshall County finished with 16 shots as well, but created more quality scoring chances than the Rockets. Ryan Longchamps, Christian Ibarra, and Edgar Flores each fired four shots on goal to lead MCHS, while Austin Childress took two shots. Brown and Estes attempted one shot apiece as well.
Junior striker Taylor Abrigo paced Forrest with 8 shots on goal, while Angel Reyes and Ryan Tipton each fired two shots. Halen Hill, Danny Johnson, Taylor Brown and Andrew Mendoza also attempted one shot apiece for the Rockets.
In net, Tiger goalkeeper Cody White recorded eight saves and Forrest's Kyle Billingsley notched 10 saves.
Marshall County was unable to cash in on several scoring opportunities in the first 30 minutes of the contest, as the Tigers had three shots fly just outside the FHS net while Billingsley made two nice saves on shots by Ibarra and Childress.
The Rockets began to put more pressure on the MCHS goal in the latter stages of the first half, but White stopped an off-balance shot by Abrigo in the 38th minute prior to corralling a header attempt by Tipton in the 40th minute on a corner kick play.
In the second half, Longchamps narrowly missed a shot from the top of the penalty box in the 45th minute, before Johnson came agonizingly close to getting Forrest on the board in the 63rd minute when he rifled a line drive shot from 20 yards out off the top post of the MCHS net.
Abrigo then misfired on a direct kick from the top of the penalty box in the 66th minute before D.J. Brown finally broke the deadlock four minutes later with a great individual effort. After breaking through a couple of FHS defenders in the middle of the field, Brown lofted a 10-yard shot into the back of the net when Billingsley came out to challenge the ball.
"I don't remember exactly how it happened. I just saw both defenders go down so I took the shot and it went in. I had so much adrenaline running through me after that," said Brown.
The Rockets nearly tied the game in the 72nd minute when Taylor Brown had a close range shot go just wide of the far post after receiving a throw-in from Reyes on the right side of the field.
Marshall County though controlled the action the rest of the way and attempted four of the final five shots in the contest before claiming the 1-0 victory.