Friday, April 25, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Devils pull upset over Bears

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville boys’ soccer team pulled off a mild upset on Tuesday, beating Sylvan Hills in overtime after the two teams ended regulation at Jan Crow Stadium tied 2-2. The Red Devils won penalty kicks 3-2 to take a 5-4 victory.

Earlier in the evening, the Lady Bears weren’t in upset mode, and easily handled the Lady Red Devils 5-0.

The Sylvan Hills boys won the first meeting with its 5A-East Conference foe 2-0 in Sherwood earlier this season, but Jacksonville coach Adam Thrash felt like his team had improved enough to possibly change that outcome on Tuesday.

“That was our second game,” Thrash said of the first match with the Bears. “I had never coached soccer before. Thirteen of our 16 players have never played soccer before this year, so we all had a lot of room for improvement. I really thought we played with them pretty well the first time, so I thought things might could be different this time.”

Sylvan Hills scored first on a penalty kick in just the third minute of the game. Jack-sonville goalkeeper Jeremy Wilson made a nice save of a close-range shot-on-goal by the Bears, but then threw the ball to a teammate, who caught it with his hands inside the box. That resulted in the penalty kick that gave the Bears the lead.

“Of the 13 who hadn’t played before this season, Jeremy had never played before this game,” Thrash said. “We got him a jersey 30 minutes before the game started. After that first mistake, he played lights out. He made some good saves for us.”

Neither team scored the rest of the half.

Jacksonville’s John Her-mann then tied the game with a sharp-angle goal early in the second half. The two teams remained tied until only 12 minutes remained when the Bears took the lead again.

Shortly after that with five minutes remaining, Jacksonville’s Devin James scored a rebound goal to tie it up.

With two minutes remaining and the likelihood of penalty kicks increasing, Thrash made a strategy decision to put Hermann in goal.

“It’s just that Hermann is our most experienced player, and you can’t substitute once regulation is over. I just felt it gave us our best chance to win to have him in there with it on the line. And he did a great job.”

Both teams missed their first kick before both teams made their next two. Ben Foshi and R.J. Moore put the two kicks in for Jacksonville.

Hermann then scored for Jacksonville and stopped Sylvan Hills’ next kick. Jacksonville missed its final kick and Sylvan Hills had one more chance to tie the match, but the shot sailed high and wide right, giving the Red Devils the victory.

“This is really good for our guys,” Thrash said. “They practice really hard even though they aren’t very experienced. I’ve never coached soccer before, but I’ve gathered that traditionally, we’re not supposed to beat Sylvan Hills at soccer. So this was a good night for these guys – kind of big for us.”

The win lifts Jacksonville to 3-5 overall and in conference play, while Sylvan Hills dropped to 7-7 and 5-3.

Sylvan Hills dominated the girls’ game early, scoring four goals in the first five minutes. Senior Abi Persson scored three of those goals and Rachel Franco scored one. All were from at least 20 yards out.

Sylvan Hills coach Nate Persson then pulled Abi Persson and Franco to defense to extend the game and get his younger players some quality minutes.

“With the new rules, when you get up by six, they cut the remaining time in half, and I really need some of these younger girls to get some experience,” Nate Persson said. “So we just worked on some things and I think they did well.”

The Lady Bears improved to 12-3 overall and 6-2 in league play.