E.A. Sports Today

Jacksonville falls to nemesis

Guntersville keeps pressure on, wins 4-0 to end Golden Eagles’ season again

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

GUNTERSVILLE — Jacksonville and Guntersville had played twice already this season, but the only game either was thinking about since the start was Tuesday night.

It was a game both teams figured was going to produce the eventual 4A-5A girls state champion and it was the biggest hurdle standing in the other’s way.

The teams have played each other in the playoffs each of the last five years and the third-ranked Golden Eagles again had trouble with their nemesis, falling 4-0.

At least the view was nice.

“It’s sad, it’s very sad, because this is the end of this chapter in these seniors’ career in high school,” Jacksonville coach Sam Cain said. “It’s sad for them, but they also have left a great legacy and they’re good role models for their teammates … of how to play soccer, how we do play with fight and play to the last whistle. It doesn’t matter what the score is, we’re going to play ’til the end.”

The second-ranked Wildcats (12-0-0) scored four goals against the Golden Eagles (14-6-0) in all three matches this season, but the difference this time was Anna Mikel Jones.

The coach’s daughter didn’t play in either of the two regular-season matches because of injury and on this night she scored three goals. She scored the overtime winner against the Golden Eagles last year.

The Golden Eagles put much of their focus on Guntersville’s other Anna — Anna Tully — and Jones slipped through the gaps. She scored twice in the first half and the lone goal of the second. Tully scored Guntersville’s other goal and assisted in Jones’ first.

“Maybe we were worried about No. 3 (Tully) too much, then,” Cain said. “I thought No. 3 scored them. Maybe we focused too much on No. 3 and left somebody we hadn’t prepared for. I guess that’s a good move by (Wildcats coach Mike Jones). I hadn’t realized that.”

The Wildcats kept the pressure in Jacksonville’s end much of the night and opened a 3-0 lead in the first half. Keeper Matti Lowery had 14 saves in the half, had six goal kicks and the Wildcats had five corners.

“It was interesting,” Lowery said. “My defense definitely held down the fort. There’s just nothing you can do sometimes. Sometimes you’re just unlucky.”

The Golden Eagles had scored only one goals against Guntersville in their two area matches this season. In an effort to make something happen, they played Virginia Poe more forward at her suggestion to counter the speedy Tully, but the Furman-bound senior was regularly marked by multiple defenders to limit her touches. But it wasn’t as if they didn’t have any chances.

Elizabeth Poe hit a cross midway through the first half the Guntersville goalie missed but Cindee Tang couldn’t turn to get a shot. Quenteeria Mooney, headed to Judson College in the fall, made a run with about four minutes left in the half, slipped in the box but still got a shot away.

The Golden Eagles appeared to score in the second half but Ashton Wells’ goal was disallowed by an offsides flag.

The game marked the end of a long and storied career for Poe. The Golden Eagles’ multi-sport star, fighting back tears, made a point after the game to “say thank you to all the Jacksonville people.”

“It’s just weird; this is my last game in a Jacksonville uniform,” she said. “That’s just the strange part about it. It didn’t matter if it’s 1-0, 4-0, 10-0, we still lost and it’s just weird because it’s the end. I’ve been playing soccer since seventh grade here.”

Guntersville, meanwhile, moves on to play Sylacauga in the next round.[corner-ad id=1]

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