The Meridian Star
The Southeast Lauderdale boys soccer team fought its way to a scrappy 3-1 win over Philadelphia Thursday night to solidify first place in the Division 3 standings.
Both teams brought a physical style of play to the game, as three yellow cards were drawn and multiple fouls were called.
“It's always like this when we play Philadelphia,” Southeast head coach Mike Thomas said. “We are just fortunate to win. We will play again up there and the game will be the same thing. It will make us a better team once we get out of the regular season and into the playoffs.”
The Tigers had multiple chances early on, but Philly keeper Malik Moore was up for the challenge, stuffing Gage Hagan on a breakaway shot in the third minute.
Moore wouldn't be as fortunate two minutes later, as he sent back a shot from Andrew Bernard only to have the ball bounce right back to the Southeast midfielder. Bernard recovered the ball just inside the box and powered it past Moore to the right post to give the Tigers and early 1-0 lead.
Philly threatened several times in the first half but was snuffed out by Tiger defenders as Southeast went into the break leading 1-0.
The Tornadoes finally capitalized in the game's 59th minute as Gray Moorehead fired a rocket past Southeast keeper Noah Johnson from the right of the box to even the game at 1-1.
The celebration was short lived, however, as Gage Hagan answered right back for the Tigers. The senior forward crossed over a Philly defender and blasted a shot past Moore to put Southeast back on top.
“The longer the game stays close, the more confident there are,” Thomas said of Philadelphia. “We got that goal to put us back on top, and it made them play catchup. It played to our advantage.”
Hagan found the net again from inside the box in the 76th minute to ice the game for the Tigers.
Chippy play continued in the second half, as Johnson was constantly bumped by Philadelphia players inside the box after saves. A yellow card was dealt after a bump midway through the second half. But, moments later a similar incident went uncalled by the official.
The series of events prompted a protest from Johnson who was later given a yellow card of his own for arguing with the official.
“The ball came in, I went for it and they cheap shot me a couple times,” Johnson said. “It really doesn't matter because we got the win. 8-1 overall, 4-0 in district, so we are fine.”
Thomas came to his player's defense following the game.
“It did seem it happened very frequent, too frequent,” Thomas said. “So yeah, I think he had somewhat of a case. The tempo was already pretty much set by the official that he was going to keep whatever order there was that was maintained to keep from something bad from happening though.”
Southeast moves to 8-1 overall and 4-0 in District 3 with the win.
“We are getting the momentum going,” Johnson said. “It was great to go off into Christmas break with this win. When we come back, we are going to have to start it back up again.”
Southeast Lauderdale (girls) 2
The Lady Tigers recorded their second straight shutout, as they blanked visiting Philadelphia, 2-0, Thursday night.
Becca Blanks scored both goals for Southeast, capitalizing each time on set pieces. Blanks' first goal came in the 15th minute, as she blasted a free kick from outside the corner of the box past Philadelphia keeper K.K. Bounds to give Southeast the lead. She scored again on a penalty kick in the 73rd minute to put the game away,
“For the past three games, I scored a goal,” Blanks said. “So, I set myself a goal of trying to make two goals tonight. It actually worked. But the only thing that actually went through my mind was that it was all God. I can't say any of that was really me.”
Kali Clark recorded the shutout for Southeast, as the Tigers won the game despite only dressing out 12 players.
“We just had to rely on what we had,” Thomas said. “We asked people to step up and realize the situation, and they did that tonight.”
The win improves Southeast to 5-4 overall and 2-2 in district play.
“We are gelling as a team,” Thomas said. “We are going into the January stretch pretty much close to the driver's seat if not in the driver's seat.”