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Cougars and Spartans tangle to a tie

By DAVID GRAVELY

sports@southwesttimes.com

 

SALEM – What is the best part of competition? Winning is always the best answer, but not losing is a close second. A much-improved Cougar junior varsity and varsity soccer program experienced that recently when both teams battled the Salem Spartans to a tie.

 

“We’ve had a rough go of it over the past couple of weeks with injuries,” Cougar Head Coach Chris Castle said. “Between the concussions, strained quads, illness and one player being out of the country we only had 13 active varsity players for the past three games. We pulled Dominic Williams up from the JV squad and he did an outstanding job. We have depth, but moving so many people around makes it hard to get a rhythm. We had everyone back against Salem and it made a difference. Our guys were more comfortable and we just played well enough to fight back tonight. Hopefully we can build from here and get ready to go.”

 

The JV game started the night off, and if the fans came to see offense, they left disappointed. Both teams turned in stellar defensive efforts, resulting in a 0-0 tie. The younger Cougars now have a record of four wins, four losses and one tie.

 

The varsity game started out with both teams flying around all over the field. Salem earned a penalty kick with two minutes remaining in the first half. They made good on the chance, taking a 1-0 lead. A halftime adjustment didn’t work as intended, and shortly into the second half the Spartans scored a second goal to extend their lead to 2-0.

 

With 15 minutes remaining in the contest, Pulaski County found some heart. Senior Captain and newly crowned Prom King Jake Winesett booted the ball from 30 yards out, but Cody Roop wasn’t able to handle the ball immediately. He was able to regain control and sent a volley pass back to Winesett, who took a touch to settle the ball and sent a looping shot to the back post, just over the outstretched hands of the Spartan goalie.

 

The battle went back and forth until, with just over two minutes remaining in the game, a Cougar forward took a short inbound pass in open space from Evan Danner and sent it directly back to Danner, who sent a low service ball to the front of the goal. Luke Harmon got between two Salem defenders and hit the ball with a one-touch shot to tie the game at 2-2.

 

“We played better tonight than we have all season,” Castle said. “The first goal from Salem was a penalty kick, but their second goal was on me. After they scored that second goal we settled down, readjusted and watched the seniors put the team on their back. Hunter Quesenberry played multiple positions for us and adjusted well each time. Jake and Luke just stepped up in the moment and made it happen. I’m proud of their leadership and just overall determination. They responded, that’s what you expect from seniors.”

 

The Cougars are scheduled to host Christiansburg Friday. JV action begins at 5:30 p.m. followed by the varsity contest at 7 p.m.

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