On Tuesday two of soccer’s “big dogs” in the 2-AAA Region faced off in Ludowici with Liberty County High School taking on Long County High School. Though both teams went into this game tied for the second spot in the region, whereas in recent years they have been facing off for the top spot. Most soccer novices and experts would agree that both teams have a good shot at playing for the region championship. The game kicked off with both squads playing aggressive and fast, but as the night went on it was apparent that Long County had the edge. When the final second ticked off the clock the Blue Tide had beaten their arch-rival 4-0. Putting in goals for Long County was Alex Maldonado, Paul Cruz, Ishmael Franco, and Abel Cruz.
Long County head coach Paul Austin said that the win was big because it keeps the Blue Tide in contention for the top seed in the region.
“It keeps us on track to play for first place in the region, I think there is a three-way tie now, so we have to win out”, said Austin.
Austin said that his team is playing very solid but that remaining healthy for the remainder of the season is crucial.
“I think we are getting healthy, we are now having better second halves, which is what we have been working on, the guys played very well as a team tonight, and as long as we continue doing that, we should be good”, said Austin.
Liberty County head coach Kristin Hill said that he was disappointed with the loss, and knows that his team can play better than they did.
“It was a tough loss for our team…coming off a long weekend was our biggest factor in the loss, I was disappointed with our team’s play because our fundamental skills went out the window and we are a much better team than we portrayed”, said Hill.
Though he was disappointed, Hill did praise his bench and recognized one individual player.
“I was impressed with the skills of my players that came off the bench, they worked really hard in practice and don’t get much playing time, so it’s really nice to have them put in as much effort as they do. Daniel Futch, our goalie was our best player during the game even though four goals were let in, his skill set has improved tenfold since las season and I’m very impressed with how much time he’s put into training on his own”, said Hill.
With the win Long County improved their overall record to 8-3 and their region mark to 5-2, while Liberty County fell to 6-6 and 4-3. On Friday both schools were on the road with the Panthers taking on Tattnall County (8-3-1) and the Blue Tide facing Appling County (2-6-1). Results for those games were not available in time for this story.
On Tuesday both teams are back at home as Liberty County host Pierce County (8-4) and Long County host Brantley County (0-10). Both games kick off at 7:00 PM. Tuesday’s game is also Senior Night for the Blue Tide with all graduating students being recognized.