By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
GUYTON — The South Effingham boys soccer team trimmed visiting rival Effingham County 2-1 on Friday night, setting up another trim — for head coach DaKota Paradice.
“I lost the bet,” said Paradice, who for the second straight year put his hair on the line for a public buzz cut Monday when the Mustangs won.
SEHS (9-4, 5-4 Region 2-AAAAAA) won the first meeting between the two teams 2-2, 5-4 in penalty kicks on Feb. 25.
Friday’s contest was another close shave for the Mustangs, who were outplayed early on but remained in a scoreless battle until Joey Burdick converted a cross midway through the second half.
Midfielder Grady Smith scored the second goal on a long free kick with 13:34 to go, providing the game-winner.
“It was nerve wracking because you want to make it more than a one-goal game against your rival,” Paradice said. “Give credit to (ECHS). They came out and played hard.”
And the Rebels had a plan, positioning their striker in a false 9, according to Paradice. The alignment can create extra space for wings. ECHS out-shot South 6-3 in the first half, but Chase Hoffman walled the goal.
“You have to make the most of your opportunities when you get them,” Rebels coach Austin Czachowski said. “I felt like we put ourselves in position in the first half at least to have a lot of opportunities but nothing went into the back of the net.”
ECHS’ Grant Oliver may have had the best chance to break the scoreless deadlock in the first half, dribbling past defenders to get into the box before unleashing a blast,
but Hoffman made a diving save.
The Mustangs regrouped in the second half and peppered Rebels goalie Michael Deien with eight shots. Two slipped by the freshman, who finished with nine saves overall. Hoffman had eight.
Jaren Harris scored the Rebels’ lone goal with 11:48 left.
The win for South Effingham moved the Mustangs into second place in the region standings.
ECHS (5-7, 3-7) fell two games behind fourth-place Brunswick in the race for the final state tournament slot.
Mustang girls speed to 6-2 win
Fleet-footed Anna Dorch scored three goals as the South Effingham girls swept the two-game series with rival Effingham County with a 6-2 victory Friday night.
Dorch, who had eight shots on goal, had her first goal in the opening minutes of the game and added two more (one on a penalty kick) in the second half.
The junior now has 14 goals (five in the two games against ECHS) and 13 assists.
SEHS put the game away with four goals during a 16 ½ minute span of the second half, when a 2-1 game became 6-1.
Before the Mustangs’ scoring flurry, goalie Dayanara Figueroa turned away several point-blank shots to keep the Rebels within striking distance.
SEHS’ Taylor Hoffman scored to up the lead to 2-0 with 4:32 to go in the half, but ECHS’ Emily Perkins answered about 14 minutes later to make it 2-1 with 30:53 left.
But 29 seconds later, Taylor Richards scored to give the Mustangs a two-goal cushion. Dorch added two more goals and Harley Murphy had one before ECHS’ Rachel Reagan ended the scoring.
SEHS’ sophomore goalie Elena Hairston had seven saves in her first start.
SEHS (8-4, 5-4 Region 2-AAAAAA) snapped a two-game losing streak and reinforced its hold on third place in the region standings. The Mustangs have a two-game advantage in the loss column over both ECHS (5-8, 4-6) and Bradwell Institute (7-6, 3-6) with three games to play.
Bradwell and the Rebels are scheduled to meet Tuesday.