County soccer rivals play to spirited draw

Friday, September 2, 2011
Tigerette goalie Atlanta Ferguson comes up with one of several brilliant saves in net for MCHS, who came away with a 2-2 tie at Chapel Hill Thursday night. Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

The annual MCHS versus Forrest District 11A/AA girls' soccer game is one of the highlight sporting events in the county and the rivalry has grown to become one of the deepest over recent years with the Tigerettes holding a 2-1-2 record against the Lady Rockets since August 23, 2007 when FHS posted a 6-2 home win.

On Thursday night in Chapel Hill, the two squads met as earliest in a season as they have ever done in the past and the huge throng of fans got their money's worth once again in a game that unfortunately had no winner on the scoreboard as it ended in a 2-2 draw.

The score could have been 5-2 in favor of Forrest if Atlanta Ferguson was not in goal for the Tigerettes.

MCHS head coach Lisa Raffo said after the contest, "My defense was rough, tough, and ready to go tonight. And Ferguson, she never kept in her life until this year. She's a dancer, so we are extremely proud of her."

Ferguson, a sophomore first-year keeper was magnificent, making at least three utterly brilliant saves in net with two of those coming in a scoreless second half.

"We were a team tonight," said Ferguson after the game. "We walked on as one and walked off as one tonight. I think this was huge for us, we have been pumped up all day to play."

The game began with Marshall County getting off on a quick foot as they controlled the action and the push paid off when Emily Spence found some space for the games' first goal.

Ciara Cook (4) scored both goals on the night for the Lady Rockets and was robbed of two more by Ferguson's great play in the net for Marshall County.

After the Spence goal, Forrest began their own offensive surge and Ciara Cook knotted the game at one when she twisted in a picture perfect corner kick past Ferguson.

Cook came back moments later on a rush up the middle and hit a bullet that Ferguson deflected on a diving effort at the last second.

MCHS went the other way with a big rush, but FHS goalie Stacey Horton was up to the task on a nice save.

The Tigerettes kept the ball in Forrest's end before Clara Wilson made a heads-up play on a rebound and deposited the silver sphere into the back of the net for a 2-1 MCHS lead.

It was the same script as before for FHS, who rallied with a late first half breakaway run that saw Brittney Hill find Cook on a pretty crossing pass for the tying score with very little time remaining on the first half clock.

Forrest's Scarlett Roberson (15) makes a move and gets by the MCHS defender.

Just minutes into the second half, Forrest had a golden opportunity to take the lead for the first time when the Tigerettes were called for a handball foul just outside the box.

Chelsey Ayala took the free kick for the Lady Rockets and sent a laser towards the goal, but Ferguson pounced quickly to her right and made a brilliant save to keep the game knotted-up.

Then, Ferguson topped them all, laying out for a spectacular save on a Cook corner kick ball that was bending and destined for the upper right hand corner of the MCHS net.

MCHS defender Tara Adcock (22) takes the ball away from Camille Harris (07) on a first half-run by Forrest.

The remainder of the second half was played tight and fair by both squads and there were not many more scoring opportunities by either ballclub.

There was only one yellow card issued in the game and that was for a moving wall on Forrest in the second half.

Raffo said about the tie and what she thinks it will do for her squad the rest of the season, "I think it really boosts our confidence in ourselves because we are a really new team. We graduated eight and I think this is a great achievement for our program."