All GISA schools that offer soccer compete in the same classification. Despite having to face schools with much larger player pools, the Lady ’Landers are undefeated at 13-0. The Highlanders are coming into their own during a rebuilding year.
This week they dominated region opponent Robert Toombs Christian Academy and persevered over Coastal Home School.
FPCA vs. Robert Toombs
The Lady ’Landers earned their 10th shutout of the season in against Robert Toombs. Winning 5-0, the game was called off in the first few minutes of the second half at the request of the Robert Toombs coach. Credited in the shut out are Madison Buckley, Mackenzie Buckley, Cassandra Ruff, Kasey Caines and Helena Scott. Goal scorers were Auset Gibbs 2, Mary Kathryn Whitney 2, and Cecilia Graham 1. Credited with assists were Graham 2 and Mercedes Buckley 1.
The Highlanders defeated Toombs 5-1. The game was called after the first half, again at the request of the opposing coach. Contributing goals were George Mitchell 2, Palmer Whitney 2 and Ausar Gibbs 1. Assisting the goals were Donny Phillips and Jamison Golson.
FPCA vs. Coastal Home School
The Lady ’Landers defeated Coastal Home School 5-1. The aggressive and physical play by Coastal Home School momentarily shocked FPCA and the first goal was scored by the opponent.
Shaking off the shock, the Lady Highlanders resisted being dragged into a physical free for all. Instead of engaging Coastal’s risky play, Graham and Whitney shot from over 30 yards out, scoring and frustrating Coastal. Quick passing and an increased speed of play effectively shut down Coastal’s offense and confused their defense.
Contributing goals were Graham 2, Buckley 2, and Whitney 1. Credited with assists were Graham 2, Whitney 1 and Gibbs 1.
The Highlanders battled against Coastal. By the end of the first half, FPCA was down 3-0 in another aggressive game. After the half and guidance from Coach Sukaratana, the Highlanders began a comeback.
As the half played out, the Highlanders began losing starters to injuries. Palmer Whitney, Alfred Martin and Ausar Gibbs were all injured, leaving the squad struggling. Keeping their cool, the Highlanders began a rebound.
Under the guidance of senior goal keeper Matt Smith the Highlander defense limited Coastal to one goal in the half. Smith was tested by numerous shots and earned difficult saves to keep the Highlanders in the game.
The Highlanders began their offensive mount. Playing on his speed, the team would set George Mitchell up to score a hat trick (3 goals) in the second half. Displaying his consistency and reliability, eighth-grader Donny Phillips scored as well, despite being at a marked disadvantage in size against the older and bigger team.
The Highlanders’ offensive blast frustrated Coastal, who responded by becoming even more aggressive. The game ended regulation time tied 4-4 when Sukaratana ended the game out of concern for the safety of his players.
The coach said he was proud that his teams never lost focus.
"The girls played smart," Sukaratana said. "They kept their emotions contained and played our game. They are working as a team and they trust each other. This team-play will serve us well as we get deeper into our region matches. The girls will be tested next week with our first matchup against Frederica Academy. Historically, Frederica is our hardest match in the region."
Of the boys, Sukaratana said, "It is easy to give up, much harder to stick to it and keep your heads in a game when your starters are falling to injuries. My guys did not quit and they fought their hardest to come back. However, I must consider their safety and I will not risk their health just to win. I am proud they were able to tie this game."
The Highlanders have two region games next week. Tuesday, they will face Trinity Dublin at home. Friday, they face region powerhouse Frederica Academy, also at home. Game times are 4 and 6 p.m.