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Cougars outlast Blue Demons in Soccer

By DAVID GRAVELY

sports@southwesttimes.com

 

Defense wins championships.

 

That may just be an old saying to some or something funny you hear on a commercial about old men, but if the other team don’t score, they can’t win.

 

That was the case recently as the Cougar JV and varsity soccer teams each earned wins over Christiansburg on the road. The games were held at Eastern Montgomery High School due the work being done to put a new turf field being put in at Christiansburg High School.

 

In the JV contest the younger Cougars won 2-0. That win moved their record to 2-1. Garrison Coleman scored the first goal with an assist from Paul Southern. Landon McDaniel scored the second goal with an assist from Dominic Williams.

 

The varsity contest was a bit closer, but the Cougars pulled out the 1-0 win with a goal by sophomore Frank Lopez just six minutes into the second half. Senior captain Jake Winesett earned an assist on the goal.

 

“Jake made a great hustle play by chasing down a Christiansburg defender deep into the right corner,” Cougar Head Coach Chris Castle said. “He battled for the ball by making a nice hip check into the defender, separating the defender from the ball. This enabled Jake to gain possession and drive to the end line. He was able to place a well hit service ball over the out stretched hands of the goalkeeper. Frank was sitting on the back post with a nice easy one-touch shot into the back of net.   That’s a big time play from Jake, great determination and heart but the execution on the service ball was top shelf.  He placed the ball in the only location that gave us chance. That’s his second assist on the season that ended up being a game winner.  Jake has always been highly motivated. With his increased maturity level from last season, he has developed into an absolute gamer.”

 

Castle was pleased with his teams’ effort, but it took some adjustments to earn the win.

 

“Our game plan was basically torn up and thrown away 20 minutes into the game,” he said. “Christiansburg was having great success playing the ball out wide. Matched up against our 4-3-3 we simply didn’t have anyone to matchup against their wing players. Those players were doing an excellent job of getting the ball forward and playing very good passes to their forwards.  From the mismatch, Christiansburg was able to pepper us with 10 shots in those first 20 minutes. Right before the adjustment the second biggest play of the game occurred. A foul by a Cougar defender inside box resulted in a penalty kick attempt. On the resulting PK keeper Derek Akers made a fantastic save by reading correctly the direction of the kick. He timed his dive perfectly, went parallel to the ground and was able to push the ball with both hands wide of the post. If Derek doesn’t make that save, the outcome of this game is different. That play is simply a direct reflection of Derek’s commitment to becoming the best he can be.  It was just simply an outstanding save.”

 

The two Cougar goal keepers, Nathan Rice and Derek Akers, combined for 12 saves.

 

 

With the needed adjustments made, Castle and his crew went to work.

 

“Once we adjusted to the 4-2-3-1 we were able to slow their attack,” he said. “It then became more of an even affair with each team getting chances at the goal”

 

By the end of the game Christiansburg had totaled 20 shots with 12 shots on goal. Pulaski County was able to tally 10 shots with 6 on frame.  In the final 10 minutes the Blue Demons pressed with everything they had to get the equalizer. The Cougars were on their heels in a mad dash to defend their goal. With constant substitutes, PC was able to bring in fresh legs to weather the storm.

 

“This was a complete team victory,” Castle said. “Without our depth we more than likely wilt in the final minutes. We were able to keep fresh legs in the game and squeeze out a victory. Statistically we got out played. However, once we adjusted to their wing play the game settled down. The good news for us is we didn’t play particularly well overall. To be able to win a game when you lost the statistical battle and you didn’t play well shows the fortitude of our team. I’m proud of the guys for earning the team win. Now it’s time to get back to work.”

 

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