BOYS’ SOCCER: Ridgeland wins second straight with victory over LaFayette
It may be difficult to believe, but even though the calendar just flipped into March, it’s already nearly the halfway point in the regular season for Walker County high school soccer teams.
And for the Ridgeland Panthers, that means some chemistry is starting to develop.
The Black-and-White made it two victories in a row at home on Thursday, beating county and region rival LaFayette, 4-1. The win comes just two days after an abbreviated 5-3 home win over another longtime foe, LFO.
"We’ve had seven matches so far and this is just the third match we’ve played with our full squad," head coach Tim Sparks explained. "We’ve had kids (miss matches) because of red cards, college trips and art trips, so it helps to have all of the guys there."
Ridgeland (3-4) went into halftime knotted up at a goal apiece. The Panthers broke through in the 29th minute as Christian Crumble assisted Angel Ojeda for the first of Ojeda’s two goals on the night.
However, LaFayette (1-3) answered back in style just four minutes later as a long throw-in by Matthew Newsom was redirected by Ethan Kennedy, who got the ball past Ridgeland keeper Kolston Byrd for the equalizer.
The second half, however, would belong to the home team.
Just 90 seconds into the second half, Juan Velazquez sent a beautiful crossing pass into the box where Ojeda headed it into the back of the onion bag to put Ridgeland in front and Ojeda just missed a hat trick as he unleashed a screamer less than 90 seconds later that banged off the crossbar.
Denilson Bautista would make it 3-1 in the 57th minute off an assist from Velazquez and Ridgeland kept up the pressure over the next 15 minutes. But three nice saves from LaFayette keeper Jett Harrison would keep the Ramblers within striking distance.
However, the Panthers would put it away in the 72nd minute as Conner Middleton’s corner kick found the toe of Joe Reeves, who knocked it home to give his team one final insurance goal.
"It’s taken a little to get them to play like they played tonight," Sparks added. "I felt like tonight was definitely a breakthrough night for us. I’m not sure what that means for the future, it was good to see us play as well as we played tonight."
LaFayette will play at Trion on Friday, while Ridgeland is not scheduled to take the pitch again until Friday, March 10 at Ringgold.
Ridgeland boys 5, LFO 3
The Panthers and Warriors braved the damp conditions and got in a match on Tuesday.
Ridgeland went up 4-0 at halftime on two goals by Ojeda and one each from Velazquez and Brandon Hair. LFO would score twice in the first 10 minutes of the second half, one by Bryan Castro and one on an own goal by Ridgeland.
The Panthers added a second tally by Velzaquez in the 53rd minute and the Warriors answered in the 60th on a shot by Armando Martinez.
However, tempers would flare in the 68th minute, resulting in a skirmish that saw LFO receive one red card and Ridgeland get one yellow card. Sparks and LFO coach Nick Dunn then agreed to end the game early.
North Murray 10, LFO 0
The Warriors fell to 0-4 overall and 0-2 in region play with a loss to the Mountaineers (3-1, 1-0) in Chatsworth on Thursday.
LFO will be at home on Monday against Howard of Chattanooga at 6 p.m.