Panthers score seven goals in second half to rout Worth County

Published 5:11 pm Wednesday, March 22, 2023

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AMERICUS – After one half of play in the Sumter County High School boys’ soccer team’s region match against the Worth County Rams (WCH) Tuesday night at Alton Shell Stadium, the Panthers (SCHS) were in a competitive match and led WCH 2-1 at halftime. However, in the second half, SCHS went on the prowl, putting on a dominating performance and bagging seven goals on their way to a 9-1 shellacking of the Rams.

SCHS senior forward Creighton Meyers spearheaded the Panthers’ second half attack with four goals, while senior forward Ary Flores and junior striker Leo Diaz each scored two goals and senior midfielder Evan Garcia netted a goal on a corner kick.

The win puts the Panthers at 9-7 overall, but more importantly, they improve to 5-5 in the Region 1-AA standings. The victory also guarantees that the Panthers can finish no worse than fourth place in the region standings, which means that they have clinched a berth in the GHSA Class AA state playoffs next month. There is a chance that SCHS could finish in third place in the region, but in order to do that, the Panthers must win the rest of their remaining two games if the regular season against Jeff Davis and Cook.

During the first half, the Panthers engaged mostly in wide play, as they tried to move the ball up the flanks of the field to score, but in doing so, SCHS Head Coach Michael Pepito noticed a weakness in the WCH defense that could be exploited and was to a great degree in the second half.

“We started to realize that the way they (WCH) were playing left some vulnerable spots for them,” Pepito said. “I think in the first half, most of our goals started to come from the wings, which is what we try to do: come from the wings, play the ball in so we can spread out the defense. I thought in the second half, we played a little bit wider, which opened up that middle a little bit, which gave us the opportunity to score some goals,” Pepito continued.

On several occasions in the second half, the Panthers took the ball right up the middle of the Rams’ defense and used their team speed to score seven goals.

Sumter County senior forward Creighton Meyers scored four goals in the Panthers’ rout of Worth County.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

The Panthers opened up the scoring in the first half when Leo Diaz netted the first of his two goals, but the Rams were able to counter with and equalizer. However, WCH would later be flagged for a foul inside the 18-yard box, which resulted in a penalty kick for the Panthers. Ary Flores stepped up and converted the penalty kick and the Panthers regained the lead 2-1. Neither team could add a goal over the remaining minutes of the first half and the score remained 2-1 SCHS at halftime.

However, it only took seconds from the start of the second half for the Panthers to take a 3-1 lead when Meyers dribbled through the WCH defense and scored. From that point on, the rout was on. In the 51st minute, Meyers scored his second goal of the match to give SCHS a 4-1 lead and would score his third goal two minutes later.

Sumter County sophomore midfielder Jose Perez carries the ball up the field for the Panthers against Worth County.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Both Diaz and Flores each scored their second goals of the game and Meyers added his fourth. Then with 12:27 to go in the match, Evan Garcia sent a corner kick past a befuddled and frustrated WCH back line and into the net to complete the Panthers’ 9-1 rout of the Rams.

SCHS has two regular season games left before the upcoming GHSA Class AA state playoffs. The Panthers will travel to Hazelhurst, GA on Friday, March 24, to take on Jeff Davis High. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. They will then close out the regular season at home against Cook High School on Friday, March 31, at 7 p.m.