By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
SPRINGFIELD – South Effingham’s boys are all about diversity.
Just one game removed from creating scoring opportunities with long passes, the Mustangs changed strategy and shortened their touches en route to a 3-1 victory over Effingham County on March 20.
SEHS (10-3-1, 7-3 Region 2-6A) entered the week needing just a win in its final two region games – Glynn Academy or Lakeside Evans – to ensure a second-place finish in the region and a first-round home state playoff game.
The Mustangs’ ability to excel in different styles could create problems for opponents.
“We don’t want to be a team that plays super direct. That’s something I take pride in,” SEHS coach DaKota Paradice said. “To begin the season, we were passing way too much and dribbling way too much. When we got to (the Richmond Hill game on March 16), we played a lot more direct. It was good to have a game (against ECHS) when it was more 50-50.”
Of course, an opponent’s strength dictates the course of action. The Mustangs overcame Richmond Hill’s skillful midfield play by attacking with long balls.
They were more methodical against ECHS. Chris Garcia gave South an early lead and overlapping defenseman Tyler Quick scored the second goal and celebrated by doing a cartwheel back to his position.
It was a rough start for the Rebels, who played South tough in a 1-0 loss on Feb. 28.
“We felt like the February game was there for the taking and it didn’t happen. This was another chance, but we didn’t start the game very well,” ECHS coach Austin Czachowski said. “I thought we played better after the first 15 minutes. We had scoring opportunities, but we didn’t capitalize on them.”
Rebel Ben Wadley cut the deficit in half with a goal at 10:13 of the first half, but a penalty kick by Christian Fuentes less than four minutes later upped the Mustangs’ lead back to two goals.
Midway through the second half, South used an unconventional tactic to keep its lead intact. Faced with a direct kick just outside the penalty box, the Mustangs put all 11 players in goal. The ensuing shot hit a defender and the rebound eventually was cleared.
“It just wasn’t our night,” Czachowski said.
Dorch scores 4 goals in SEHS girls win
Senior Anna Dorch scored four goals to lead South Effingham to a 4-1 victory over Effingham County in the girls’ game March 20.
SEHS raised its record to 4-7, 4-6 in Region 2-6A.
The Mustangs, who have won four straight matches in the rivalry, evened their all-time record with the Rebels at 8-8-2.
Kinsey Stone scored the lone goal for ECHS, which dropped to 4-10 overall, 2-9 in region play.