Tuesday, May 05, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Red Devils start slow, rout Mills for victory

Leader sports editor

A sluggish start still resulted in a 2-0 halftime lead, and a dominant second half led to a 6-1 victory for the Jacksonville soccer team Monday at Mills University Studies.

Jacksonville coach Adam Thrash benched two starters for the first half for being late for the bus, and overall energy was low in the first 40 minutes.

“Except for that game last week, we’ve always been a second-half team,” said Thrash. “We’ve got the state tournament coming up and we can’t afford to be that way then. Maybe we need to start doing 40-minute warm-ups or something. I don’t know.”

On Monday, it wasn’t hard to overcome the slow start against the 1-11 Comets. The Red Devils tried to use the game to practice situations like being down a goal with a certain amount of time remaining. The first scenario was down a goal with seven minutes left, and Jacksonville failed to score in that time, but not by much.

In the eighth minute, Cortez Jordan took a pass from Jacob Alcorn behind the Comet defense and beat goalkeeper Nathan Milsap for a 1-0 Red Devil lead.

The Red Devils failed to score on the next several fake scenarios, but finally added to its lead on the same combo of Alcorn to Jordan in the 29th minute of the first half.

Jordan made it a hat trick early in the second half. A high entry pass from the opposite side of midfield came down behind the Comet defense again. After one bounce on the ground, Jordan, in a dead run towards the Mills goal, bounced the ball off his own head twice before heading it out in front of himself and scoring in the fourth minute.

Another long drought was followed by a blitz of Jacksonville goals late in the match. In the 25th minute, Gerald Walton scored his 14th goal of the year after taking a cross pass from Glen Mitchell.

Three minutes later, Mills made a mistake by throwing the ball in from its own side of the field towards its goal.

Jacksonville’s Keilen Richardson beat everyone to the ball and then beat one defender and Milsap to score and put the Red Devils ahead 5-0.

Five minutes after Richardson’s goal, Mitchell got a breakaway down the right side. His initial shot was blocked by Milsap, but Mitchell was there for his own putback to make it 6-0 with five minutes remaining.

Just a few seconds later, Mitchell placed a perfect pass from the right sideline to Walton just in front of the Mills goal. Walton executed a perfect bicycle kick, but Milsap deflected it over the goal, ruining the potential highlight.

Mills finally got on the board and avoided the shutout with a goal with 20 seconds remaining in the game.

Jacksonville (9-3) hosted a makeup game with Mills on Tuesday for senior night, and will play at McClellan to close the regular season on Thursday. A win in either of those games guarantees the Red Devils a two-seed in the state playoffs that begin next Thursday in Hope.