E.A. Sports Today

Emotional ending

Jacksonville’s girls fall to Guntersville in Class 4A-5A playoffs that turns out to be coach Tom Anderson’s final game

The Jacksonville girls soccer team shares an emotional post-game moment after its 4-0 loss to Guntersville in the second round of the Class 4A-5A playoffs. On the cover coach Tom Anderson addresses the team for a final time.

Tuesday’s girls soccer scores
Susan Moore 3, Weaver 0
Guntersville 4, Jacksonville 0

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE – The players on the Jacksonville girls soccer team have known for the last week and a half a day of this kind would come, but it didn’t make it any easier to say good-bye.


The Lady Golden Eagles had extra incentive to stay alive in the Class 4A-5A playoffs. Not just to extend their season, but to keep coach Tom Anderson around a little longer.

When Jacksonville lost to second-ranked Guntersville 4-0 in the second round Tuesday, it brought a close to Anderson’s run as coach. He confirmed after the game it was his last.

Anderson, a Jacksonville State instructor for the past six years, is returning to his home state in July to start a teaching position at BYU-Idaho. His daughter, Maggie, is an eighth-grade on the team.

“We were all crying; it was definitely emotional,” tearful junior Olivia King said. “It was bittersweet. We were happy and sad.”

After the game, the players gathered together one last time as a team. They presented Anderson with a signed team picture and passed around a soccer ball for each to sign. King read a little speech.

“Coach Anderson has definitely been the best coach ever,” she said. “He’s always taught us positivity was what gets you through things. Building each other up, that’s how we win, that’s how we win our battles, through positive encouragement and always building each other up and we’re a family, that comes with that.

“He taught us all that and it’s sad to see him leave, but glad that he put that out for us so now we know what we have to do in the upcoming years to stay positive. We know he put out a great platform for us to continue winning.”

Guntersville took command of the game with two goals in the first five minutes. Sarah Wright scored the first of her three goals two minutes into the match when she got past Vilma Rios and broke in on keeper Amanda Cunigan. Lanie Willis made it 2-0 a few minutes later.

Wright gave her team a 3-0 halftime lead with a breakaway in the final two minutes of the half and then completed her hat trick with a run from midfield with 17:13 to play. 

The Lady Wildcats will play Westbrook Christian in the third round later this week.

“They were just stringing together some beautiful passes, some good 1-2s and were in the right place to just tap in the goal,” Anderson said. “We tried to defend that, but they got the better of us.”

While much of the game was played in Jacksonville’s end, the Lady Golden Eagles did have their chances. Their two best came 10 minutes into the second half when Bre Edmondson broke in on goal, but got the ball tangled in her feet in the box and in the final minute when Kaylee Snead went deep down the right side and put one across the goalmouth.

“We had good opportunities in the first half and a couple in the second; we just didn’t quite capitalize on them the way that we wanted to,” Anderson said. “Sometimes the ball bounces in the right direction and sometimes it doesn’t quite do that.”

It bounced more right than not for Lady Golden Eagles during Anderson’s tenure. He guided them to an 8-4-2 record this year, an area championship, their first playoff berth since 2018 and a first-round playoff win over Carver Birmingham. He admitted it was going to be “super hard’ to leave.

“The year in general was a huge success and I couldn’t be happier for our girls, our team and our family here,” he said. “We wanted to end the year to have success the way we define success. Success is not defined by winning or losing, it’s how we as a team come together as a family and how we have good sportsmanship and grow and love each other.”

They checked all the boxes. As the players shared some final thoughts in their post-game huddle, one could be heard telling their coach “We love you so much.”

Guntersville 4, Jacksonville 0
Guntersville         3 1 – 4 
Jacksonville         0 0 – 0
Goals: Sarah Wright (G), 2:01; Lanie Willis (G), 4:42; Sarah Wright (G), 38:18; Sarah Wright (G), 62:47. Yellow cards: Sarah Wright (G), goalie interference, 33:57

Susan Moore 3, Weaver 0

BLOUNTSVILLE – Once-beaten top-ranked Susan Moore scored two breakaway goals in the final two minutes after the Lady Bearcats pushed up one of their defenders in hopes of scoring the tying goal in the Class 1A-3A opening-round game. Shaence Appling, the team’s only senior, led Weaver’s the defensive effort.

“We played so good,” Weaver coach Chelsea Mize said. “I’m so proud. No one plays that team like that.”

You must be logged in to post a comment Login