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Experience paying off for South Effingham girls
Anna Dorch
South Effingham’s Anna Dorch (1) leads an offensive attack during a March 15 match against Brunswick at The Corral. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

GUYTON — South Effingham girls’ soccer improvement from four wins a year ago to seven this season isn’t hard to explain.

“Last year, we had 12 sophomores on the team,” Mustangs coach Amanda Johnson said. “We were passive children. We didn’t have a leader.”

But with junior Anna Dorch aggressively stepping up, SEHS is also rising in the Region 2-AAAAAA standings. The Mustangs topped Brunswick 5-0 in a key contest March 15 before losing to undefeated Glynn Academy 7-0 in a game that started in hurricane-like conditions Friday.

SEHS will meet rival Effingham County in Guyton this Friday. The Mustangs won the first meeting 3-0 on Feb. 25.

South (7-3, 4-3 Region 2-AAAAAA) has lost to two of the better teams in the state — Glynn (twice) and Richmond Hill (once) — but has beaten the other four teams in the region by three or more goals in each game and resides in third place in the region standings.

Dorch had three goals in the win against Brunswick during a highlight three-game stretch when the speedy forward scored nine times and dished out three assists.

She had a career-high four-goal effort against Bradwell Institute.

“We just had to pick our heads up (after last season),” Dorch said. “They weren’t up because we had a lot of new people, but this year we’re all one big family. Sometimes we play to different teams’ levels, but we just have to play to our level because we’re really good this year.”

Junior Jayda Parrish and freshman Ava Kopania added goals against Brunswick and junior goalie Layla Bosche notched her fifth shutout of the season. 

The SEHS boys (7-4, 3-4) began last week alone in second place, but lost to Brunswick 3-1 and Glynn 5-2 and see a battle for second unfolding.

Undefeated Glynn is the top team in the region standings, but Statesboro and Brunswick, along with the Mustangs, have just four region losses while vying for second place.

“We were hoping to get through the halfway point of region and come out (with a record of) 4-2, but we’ll respond,” SEHS boys coach DaKota Paradice said. “(Against Brunswick) we just weren’t doing the simple things. I have to coach them better.”

Adding a little luck would help too. The Mustangs lost to Statesboro in overtime 3-2 and trailed by just one goal in an evenly played match with Brunswick before the Pirates created some separation by scoring on a free kick just outside the box with less than two minutes left.

“It is what it is,” Paradice said. “Losses like that give you something to work on. It was tough. We have the talent. We just didn’t come out on the right side.”

SEHS scored an early goal against Glynn, but the Red Terrors took control with three straight scores within 20 minutes.

The Mustangs will play on the road at Richmond Hill on Tuesday before returning home for a rematch with cross-county rival Effingham County.

SEHS beat the Rebels 2-2, 5-4 in a shootout in the teams’ first meeting Feb. 25.

The Mustangs’ boys and girls will make up their Feb. 18 postponed match at Brunswick on April 4.