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SEHS boys overcome early deficit, top ECHS in soccer
J. P. Alonso
SEHS' J.P. Alonso (No. 10) gets past the Rebels' defense before scoring his second goal of the first half to tie the soccer match March 19 at the Corral. South's boys pulled away in the second half to win 5-2. (Craig LeTourneau for the Effingham Herald.)

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

GUYTON – There hasn’t been a lot of adversity for South Effingham’s boys soccer team this season – until March 19.

The Mustangs trailed by two goals in their second meeting with county rival Effingham County, but turned up their intensity, peppered the Rebels goal with 20 shots, and galloped back to beat ECHS 5-2 at the Corral.

South (11-1, 8-1 Region 2-6A) won its eighth straight game against the Rebels and is unbeaten against ECHS (9-0-2) since 2017.

And on Senior Night, the Mustangs’ seniors won their 50th game overall in the four-year span.

SEHS senior J.P. Alonso scored twice. Another senior, Desmond Prince, booted the go-ahead score and senior, Logan Perez, added an insurance goal.

Junior Cole Hoffman had South’s fourth goal.

Michael Deien
Effingham County goalie Michael Deien (No. 99) makes a diving save on a shot from Mustang striker Cole Hoffman (No. 0) as Rebel defenders Esteban Reyes (No. 8) and Derek Diaz (No. 7) prepare to clear the rebound. South tested Deien with 20 shots on goal during its 5-2 victory at the Corral on March 19. (Craig LeTourneau for the Effingham Herald.)
“Effingham County is going to defend you for 80 minutes. They wanted a 1-0 game, so when they got ahead 2-0, they got what they wanted, but we knew we were going to put up some goals too,” said Mustangs coach DaKota Paradice, whose squad clinched at least second place and a home game in the upcoming state tournament.

South defeated the Rebels 7-1 three weeks earlier (on Feb. 27), but this time the visitors scored on two of their first three shots. Diego Escobar had the first goal less than 10 minutes into the game and Derek Diaz headed in Kyle Hickman’s 60-yard free kick with 11:20 to go in the first half to make it 2-0.

“We couldn’t put it away,” ECHS coach Austin Czachowski said. “We’re playing with a lot of young kids. They got a lot of experience tonight and obviously we’ve gotten better.”

South, however, has a buffet of offensive weapons and averages more than four goals a game – second in the seven-team region.

Alonso scored the Mustangs’ first goal on a penalty kick after getting pulled down in the penalty box at 6:25. Alonso tied the game by rifling a shot past goalie Michael Deien with 2:01 to go in the half.

Prince broke the tie by converting another penalty kick with 25:37 to go. Hoffman scored with 18:49 left and Perez finalized the scoring with another goal 44 seconds later.

It was a busy night for Deien, who faced 10 shots in the first half and 10 in the second half. SEHS’ pressure included an 8-0 advantage in corner kicks.

“We just made some defensive mistakes at the start,” Paradice said. “We were out of place and they capitalized, but I think we were confident we’d come back.”

The Mustangs also played some good defense during the week with a key 2-0 win over Evans last Friday night. The victory kept South on a collision course with Glynn Academy (13-1, 10-1) on Tuesday (March 26) in a match that could decide the region championship.

ECHS (2-11-1, 1-10) lost to Lakeside 1-0 last Friday night. It was the fourth 1-0 loss for the Rebels this season.