Tigers crush Rockets in intra-county showdown
Anytime two teams within the same county get together with any sport the contest is usually a hard fought game until the final whistle as evidenced by the tight 4-2 match won by Marshall County over Forrest during the regular season in 2016.
That wasn't the case on Thursday night as the Tigers took a 6-0 lead into the half before finishing off the Rockets 12-0 in a surprisingly non-competitive match in Chapel Hill between the two schools situated just over 16 miles apart.
"We actually have quite an older team," Forrest coach Nicole Pickle said. "We have about 10 seniors coming back from last season, so this was kind of a tough loss for us because we had high hopes for this game and unfortunately it didn't go as planned."
Like the Rockets, the Tigers graduated very little of its 2016 talent and after having its first game of the season at Coffee County rained out, were eager to take the field and see how the 2017 squad would work together under first-year coach Mike Hollingsworth.
"I was pleased with the way we played," Hollingsworth stated. "I wasn't sure going in because we haven't been out here because the weathers been bad the past couple weeks and it's kind of tough to practice indoors."
The early results look good as Seth Ferguson, Erick Granados, and Logan Gillium all scored two goals apiece and Julian Jones, Edgar Martinez, Christian Munoz, Maurizio, Danny Montana, and Jackson Boyd all scored one goal.
The Rockets were dealt an early blow as its starting goal keeper was taken out of the game with a nose bleed, forcing eighth grader Wayne Clausal to take the field against the powerful Tiger offensive attack.
"I really thought one of the bright spots tonight was that our keeper stepped up," Pickle said. "He is an eighth grader and he stepped up when our starting keeper went out. He had a heck of a game. He was not scared and played aggressive. He did everything we asked him to do despite being such a young guy."
"But we had a problem checking behind us and being aware of the players around us," Pickle added. "And against a team like this you just can't give those up. We gave up too much in the middle of the field and we can't make those mistakes against a team like MCHS."
Those mistakes led to an offensive advantage for the Tigers, who scored at will after an initial Rocket charge and went into the break with a big 6-0 advantage.
"I told the guys at halftime--even though we are up 6-0--I said keep playing hard and don't get out there and start messing around, doing crazy stuff," Hollingsworth said. "We're gonna treat this as a practice. We're gonna play the second half to get better. When we get back from spring break we have CPA, so I told them we're practicing for that right now."
The onslaught continued into the second half as the Tigers scored goal after goal to extend the lead to 11-0 with over 15 minutes remaining in the match.
The Tigers suffered a huge blow with four minutes remaining in the contest as senior star Jackson Boyd suffered a potential ACL/MCL tear, which all but ended his high school soccer career just one game into the season.
The devastating injury took the luster out of the game and as time expired minutes later the Rocket players showed a large amount of class by jogging over to the injured Boyd to offer hugs and handshakes.
And despite the blowout loss, coach Pickle chose to look at the positive going forward into the season.
"We had glimmers of hope," Pickle stated. "We had several instances of good ball movement and getting the ball down field. You know, we still took the time to point out the good things to them."
On the other side, despite the 12-goal win, coach Hollingsworth wanted to point out that the win was great, but there is still work to be done to get the team where it wants to be.
"Defensively we've got to be tougher," Hollingsworth said. "I've told them defense is where we're going to win. We're going to have to play great defense. And at the start of this game (Forrest) was getting the ball down on our side of the field and I started getting a little worried."
"So I told the defense you're gonna have to toughen up," Hollingsworth added. "I think defense is where we're gonna struggle the most at first. We're gonna have to get better at that to win games."