It was an interesting start to the 2023 season for the Long County Blue Tide soccer teams on Monday as they hosted the Jeff Davis Yellow Jackets.
Weather shortened both games as a lightning delay came into play at halftime of the girls’ game. Regardless of the circumstances, the Tide came out with big wins to open the season as the Lady Tide won 1-0 and the boys won 4-1.
The Lady Tide knew they had a tough task as they welcomed in the Lady Jackets, who were 19-0 in 2022 before falling in the quarterfinals of the AA state playoffs.
Despite the challenge and the Tide’s youth, they came together and dominated in the first half. They outshot the Jackets 13-3 and controlled the ball for most of the first half.
In the 4th minute, Yazmin Coronel bounced a crosser over to Ruby Garcia, but the pass was just off target. Ten minutes later, Morelia Ortiz had a shot on goal, but a diving save by the Jacket keeper kept the Tide off the board.
Late in the half in the 32nd minute, the Tide had another surge as Garcia had a breakaway attempt at the goal, but it was again knocked away. Makailah Quintero’s shot was blocked just seconds later.
In the 37th minute, the scoreless tie was finally broken as Garcia took an assist from Macey Higgason and scored from inside the box.
Three minutes before the second half was slated to begin, lightning caused a 30-minute delay.
It was decided that the second half would be shortened by 15 minutes to just 25 to try to avoid inclement weather. Just minutes into the half, however, a downpour started.
With no lightning in sight, the game continued with the Jackets looking like a completely different team. They ended up outshooting the Tide 5-4 in the second half and controlled the ball on their end.
Four minutes in, Tide keeper Leora Hyde made an important save as she leaped and grabbed the ball from just in front of the crossbar to maintain the 1-0 lead.
Overall, the Tide outshot the Jackets 17-8 and Hyde had five saves in goal.
The boys took the field with the decision being that the game would be played with 30-minute halves instead of 40.
The 13th minute proved to be lucky for the Tide as Austine Mwita scored off a deflection from the keeper to put the team up 1-0.
A hand ball on a pass wiped out a Connor Brown goal in the half ’s final two minutes.
It looked like another Tide goal as Reyvin Contreras Hernandez booted it in, but he was called offsides, keeping the score at 1-0 in the 38th minute.
The shot, however, was knocked in the waiting feet of Rapalo, who scored to put the Tide up 2-0. The Jackets looked to get on the board after a yellow card gave them a look from inside the box, but Kamdyn Gramsch Milliken made another great save, leaping to knock it down and away.
The final three minutes of the game featured a flurry of offense by both teams and three total goals between them.
In the 57th minute, Mwita’s shot at the box was deflected but it bounced and rolled in to make the score 3-0 and give Mwita his second goal of the night.
The Jackets as they finally got on the board in the 58th minute off a corner kick. Seconds later, however, Mwita completed his hat trick with a quick breakaway and score.
The Tide were outshot 17-10. Milliken, however, starred in goal for the Tide with 10 saves.
The Tide are now 1-0 and will travel to Hinesville on Friday to take on the Bradwell Tigers.