High school soccer got a quick kick-start in a scrimmage between Liberty County High School and Bradwell Institute on Tuesday afternoon at Lewis Frasier Middle School’s Freedom Field.
The girls’ scrimmage ended tied at 4-4, while the Liberty boys edged out a late goal to beat the Tigers, 4-3.
The girls started the action, and the Lady Tigers and Panthers traded goals and were tied at 2-2 at halftime.
The second half was equally exciting, with each team scoring off a penalty kick and ending the scrimmage tied, 4-4.
For the Lady Panthers, freshman Courtney Welch scored three goals, impressing fifth-year soccer coach Jarvis McArthur.
“Welch played extremely well. We knew she was a good player and she exceed my expectations tonight,” McArthur said.
Rachel Gordon scored the fourth goal for the Lady Panthers.
McArthur said he has 19 girls on the squad and everyone on the roster got an opportunity to play in the first half of the game.
McArthur has two returning players with three years of experience in Taylor Kristner and Cynthia Kornegay.
He added that a majority of the team is young but potentially talented. He said Erica Brown was another freshman in the scrimmage who played well on defense. He said goalkeeper Katlyn Neely had some great saves, but the Lady Tigers did a better job of finishing some of their goal shots.
He said players still are being evaluated and positions are still open. “It’s still a work in progress and will be a work in progress until our third game and we enter region play,” he said. “By then, we’ll have a better idea of who is going to play what.”
McArthur said his team struggled last season in Region 2A-AAAA games, adding that he thinks they can do better this year but that it won’t be easy.
“Richmond Hill will be tough again. Glynn Academy will be tough. Wayne County will be tough,” he said. “We are in a tough region, period.”
Lady Tigers coach Lindsey Guyett said Breanna Lindsey, Ashely Riles and Sarah Wells were her goal scorers for the scrimmage. Guyett said she lost 11 strong players due to graduation, but she returns several talented players who saw action last season.
“Kaylie Durham is a senior. Ashley Riles is a junior and definitely leadership in our midfield,” she said. “Amber Smith returns up top and Breanna Lindsey up top. We are waiting for the return of Leitia Leiataua; she is finishing the basketball season. We still have Kasey Smith and Sarah Wells in the back, and all of our girls are back bigger, faster and stronger this year.”
She said the girls are still working on their team dynamics but are moving in the right direction.
“We have wonderful fitness; we just need to increase it,” Guyett said. “The girls’ communication on the field is not where I would want it to be, but again, it’s a new dynamic out there … so they are still trying to find their groove.
“But we did have wonderful camaraderie in passing, and we saw some of the things we had been working on in practice, and I’m glad to see my underclassmen from last year stepping it up because we lost some of our strongest players.”
Meanwhile, the boys’ game was much like the girls’ contest — edge-of-your-seat action — and with 1:28 left before the break, the Tigers tied the game at 2-2. In the second half, the Tigers took a 3-2 lead within six minutes of play. The Panthers answered back to tie the game at 3-3. The Panthers took a shot at the goal to go up, 4-3. With two seconds left on the clock, BI kicked one toward the Panthers’ goal, but it went wide.
Panthers coach Bryant Durham said he was pleased with his team’s communication and new players.
“I saw some players tonight that are new to the team, and they played very well and I’m very pleased to see that,” he said. “I think things are headed in the right direction. All the returning players that started, they knew what to do and they did their duties and they helped the young guys along. They were talking to them.”
Durham has three returning seniors from last year’s varsity squad in Jaleel Menifee, Chris Jimenez and Kaveo Carter. The remainder of his squad is mostly juniors and sophomores, plus five freshmen. Durham said he is keeping some positions open and will have to wait and see how tough the region will be by taking it one game at a time.
Tigers coach Tommy Oglesby has several returning starters from last season and other players who have varsity time under their belt.
“I have a roster of over 35 people, and I had four keepers play tonight,” he said. “There are a lot of things that go into a scrimmage game, but I really wanted to see what everyone could bring to the table, and to lose 4-3 with three legitimate goals — I’ll take it.”
Oglesby added that he saw a lot of positive things in the scrimmage that he thinks his team can carry over to the regular season.
“All of our goals came from well-organized passing schemes,” he said. “We finished in the air, which is something that we have not been able to do in the past. Our offense looked great and there are some minor things we need to tweak on defense but I think, overall, we did extremely well.”
Bradwell starts regular-season action Monday at Brunswick, and Liberty County starts on Tuesday at Calvary Day. The girls’ games begin at 5 p.m., while the boys’ games start at 7 p.m.