Sumrall earns a pair of wins over North Pike

SUMRALL – The Sumrall soccer program picked up two district wins Thursday night over North Pike, improving the girls and boys’ records to 4-0 in Region 6-4A. North Pike won the region last year, so getting a game-up on the Jaguars and Lady Jaguars was important.

“It’s huge for a program,” Todd Siders, head coach for both teams, said. “It’s a step forward from last year, and we’re priding ourselves on winning championships. This was the team that prevented us from doing it last year, so to come out, especially on our home field, and get that early win and take that leg up in district is very important for us. But, the work isn’t done yet.”

***Click for a PHOTO GALLERY from the girls' game by Matt Bush.***

***Click for a PHOTO GALLERY from the boys' match.***

The Lady Bobcats began the night with a hard-fought 3-2 win, as freshman Caragan Childs recorded an assist and a goal to lead the team. Both her contributions came in the second half when North Pike made a huge push to get back into the game.

But in the first half, Sumrall jumped out on top after the first 40 minutes. Junior Jasmin Acosta had the first shot, but as the ball bounced around inside the box, junior Kailey Gresham finished over the goalkeeper to take a 1-0 advantage.

The Lady Jaguars began the first half on fire, though. In the first minute, Katlyn Simpson snuck the ball by the Lady Bobcat keeper, Abigail Thexton, to tie the game at 1.

That was one of two second-half goals for North Pike, as it tried to keep pace with Sumrall.

“Just some mental breakdowns and letting girls in behind us,” Siders said of his team’s second-half defense. “We told (the team) at halftime, it was 1-0 and we felt like we should have been up more. I told them, ‘If we don’t get ahead and we keep giving them life, then they’ll feel like they’ll win the game.’”

Five minutes after North Pike tied the game, Childs delivered a beautiful pass inside the 18-yard box to senior Addison Robinson, who finished to the goalkeeper’s right side to give the Lady Bobcats a 2-1 lead.

But, it didn’t take long for North Pike to answer again. Lady Jaguar Myianna Hodges received the ball in the box, then volleyed it over Thexton’s head to tie the game at 2.

Childs wasn’t done, though. With three minutes and stoppage time left in the match, she bended in a shot from 25 yards away for the goal to put Sumrall on top 3-2.

“She’s a special player,” Siders said. “She’s still a freshman. As good as she is, she hasn’t quite learned how good she is yet. She has a lot more in her, but she showed up that second half and in really pivotal moments, stepped up for us and delivered for us. That is what you want out of the person you’re expecting to play that well.”

In the boys’ game, Ali Coleman’s two-goal first half performance was the difference in Sumrall’s 2-1 win over the Jaguars. He scored in the 35th minute, then followed that up with another goal three minutes later.

“He’s just a physical specimen,” Siders said. “To be that tall, that big and run that fast, and his soccer skills from year one to now, has improved drastically. That’s why he scored those goals. Last year he doesn’t score those two for us. He just keeps pressure on them, and when he puts the ball in the back of the net, he’s a very dangerous player.”

The first goal came off a corner kick, as junior Sam Williamson sent his corner ball into the box. But, North Pike failed to clear the ball and Coleman fired a shot to take the 1-0 lead. The second goal was all Coleman, though. He beat the defense up top and battled off a defender to get a shot off. The ball hit the goalkeeper and rolled into the net for the 2-0 lead.

After missing some opportunities early in the second half, North Pike was able to cut the deficit to 2-1 when Peter Kettle scored after a Jaguar corner kick. Kettle almost had the equalizer four minutes later, but senior Hunter Graham saved Kettle’s header.

Graham recorded 12 saves in the contest, which included multiple saves from a hard push by the Jaguars’ offense in the final 40 minutes.

“He works his tail off and he’s learned to be in the right spot at the right time,” Siders said. “He’s just become a better soccer player.”