Panthers fall to Jeff Davis in hard-fought match

Published 12:48 am Wednesday, March 1, 2023

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AMERICUS – The Sumter County boys‘ soccer team (SCHS) was hoping to extend its winning streak to three games with a region victory over Jeff Davis (JD) at home, but in spite of showing grit, toughness and heart throughout the match, two goals by JD forward Gael Valora ended up being the difference in the Panthers’ 2-1 loss to the Yellow Jackets Tuesday evening, February 28, at Alton Shell Stadium.

“It’s a disappointing result, of course. We were unlucky,” SCHS Head Coach Michael Pepito said. “I thought we could have done things a little bit better, so we will go back and still work on it. I thought the kids played tough. I hardly ever subbed so my kids had the stamina to play with them. We’ve got to work on our speed and our passing and understand that as a unit, we need to congeal better as a unit moving to the spaces that need to be done and not leaving so much room for them to transfer and then anticipating the runs and the people that are attacking. They (JD) did out hustle us a little bit and it kind of showed, but, you know, we came back. It’s 2-1. It’s unlucky. I’m disappointed for the kids,” Pepito continued.

Sumter County sophomore midfielder George Gonzalez came close to scoring an equalizer in the first half against Jeff Davis.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Throughout the first half, both teams had a good bit of the run of play, but in the 15th minute, Galel Valora drilled a shot from about 30 yards out that went over the outstretched hands of SCHS goalkeeper Edward Horn and into the net, giving JD a 1-0 lead. Later on in the first half, the Panthers had opportunities to gain an equalizer. Creighton Myers had a chance to tie the game when he received the ball in the box, but his shot sailed just wide of the net. Later on in the first half, George Gonzalez also had a chance to score, but his shot sailed wide as well.

Then in the 54th minute, the Panthers were whistled for a foul inside the 18-yard box and the Yellow jackets were awarded a penalty kick. Valora stepped up and converted the penalty kick and JD had a 2-0 lead.

However, the Panthers would finally break through with a goal. In the 68th minute, Myers was able to get a hold of the ball while being surrounded by JD defenders. Myers was able to fight his way through the defense and nudged the ball past the JD goalkeeper, giving the Panthers a lifeline, as they only trailed 2-1. However, SCHS could not get the equalizer and went on to lose to the Yellow Jackets 2-1.

SCHS is now 6-2 overall on the season and 2-2 in the Region 1-AA standings.

The Panthers will travel over to Cordele to take on the Crisp County Cougars on Thursday, March 2, to compete in soccer’s version of the “Battle of the Flint”. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.