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Soccer Doggs open with a win

Just kickin' it

POSTED: February 26, 2014 12:00 p.m.
Adam Wynn/Barrow County News

Winder-Barrow’s Josh Pharr works to prevent East Jackson’s Ferry Vilchez from getting to the ball in Tuesday night’s 4-1 victory for the Soccer Doggs.

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Winder-Barrow’s varsity men’s soccer team had to wait a few extra days for their first match of the season, but they barely had to wait a few seconds for their first goal of the season.

The Soccer Doggs shined in Tuesday night’s 4-1 victory over East Jackson in which Manuel Juarez, a senior captain for Winder-Barrow, scored the team’s first goal just 48 seconds into the match.

For a team that admittedly prides itself on speed and on making speedy decisions, the Soccer Doggs made quick work of their first offensive strike.

Juarez knocked the ball past East Jackson’s Daniel Derochers at goal from near midfield, probably catching the keeper off-guard with the unexpectedly quick shot on goal.

After the game, all East Jackson could talk about was Winder-Barrow’s speed and heightened pace, and that was just fine by Winder-Barrow men’s varsity soccer coach Levi Karas.

"At the beginning of the game, that’s one of the things that we really talked about was making every decision quick…so I’m glad it showed. I’m glad they noticed that," Karas said.

Winder-Barrow’s up-tempo, pressure offense kept East Jackson from holding a significant possession on their attacking side of the field until 5’, but that possession came at a cost to the Eagles.

Senior Soccer Dogg Jesus Mares received a pass after his teammates etched the ball loose out from under East Jackson’s legs and knocked it in for another quick score, putting the Eagles down 2-0 with barely five minutes of play gone from the clock.

By 13’, East Jackson had gained either confidence or desperation and started to attack, but Winder-Barrow’s Chase Feldman slid under an opponent’s feet and knocked the ball out of bounds to end the first genuine Eagle threat.

The speed and tempo that Karas wanted from his team disappeared somewhere around that moment, though, as he said his team started to settle in.

"I think we came out really strong, and of course that set that tone, but we really settled in too quickly after that for what I was expecting," Karas noted. "I think we got too complacent. ‘Oh, we got a goal or two, so let’s sit on it,’ and I really wanted to keep the energy up because when we hit region, they’re going to be coming at us with the same pace."

The Soccer Dogg offense would pick up, though, as a wayward shot Winder-Barrow attempt bounced off the East Jackson crossbar at the 28’ mark. It was just the first of two such shots, as Winder would have another ball bounce off of the crossbar in the second half.

Two minutes later, East Jackson got their first good look at Winder’s goalkeeper, and they felt no better afterwards. Freshman Hayden Morgan went up for a huge snag while East Jackson threw the ball back in near Winder’s goal, ending a dangerous threat by the Eagles.

"He’s a fantastic keeper, especially being a freshman, which is huge that we have him for years in the future," Karas confessed. "His presence is huge, giving the defense knowledge that they can get in the attack a little bit knowing they have someone back there who knows what they’re doing and can give that confidence to them. His presence is needed."

As the Soccer Doggs started with a goal in the first minute of the half, they would start the last minute of the half with a goal. Senior Cason Dowdy received a corner kick and nudged it into the back of the net to earn the final goal that Winder-Barrow would score, though not the final goal scored for Winder-Barrow.

The Soccer Doggs threatened a few more times in the final minute, but East Jackson kept forcing the ball out of bounds to prevent anymore goals.

Winder-Barrow returned from the half poised to protect and keep playing up-tempo, but East Jackson’s Derochers settled in and played a better half that was nearly perfect.

Derochers would block each shot that came from Winder-Barrow in the second half, but his teammate Cody Cooper made that job a little harder at 46’ when he failed to clear the ball. Cooper instead angled the ball back into the net and scored an untimely own-goal benefitting the Soccer Doggs.

Derochers redeemed himself later by blocking a number of near-goals for the Doggs, including one powerful shot from Juarez.

Much of Winder-Barrow’s offense looked the same for the rest of the game as they fought mostly to keep East Jackson from getting back in, with the Doggs’ second shot off the crossbar coming at 51’.

"Obviously we need to take care of chances," Karas acknowledged, referencing the two shots off the crossbar. "In a tight region situation, every chance has to be capitalized on. We also tend to do a lot of long, over the top, but I want us to keep it a little simpler."

East Jackson would add a single goal from Aldo Martinez at 72’, but the damage was done and the Soccer Doggs took Tuesday’s victory and improved to 1-0 on the young season.

Tuesday’s game was supposed to be Winder-Barrow’s fifth game of the year, but ice and snow prevented their first three games from occurring. The fourth game, a match scheduled for last Friday with Social Circle, fell victim to last Thursday’s heavy rain.

"I was saying, ‘Come here and play,’ but they couldn’t get a bus in time," Karas laughed, as the sun had dried Winder-Barrow’s field in time, and he wanted his team to get more than one game in before region play started.

As it stands, though, the Soccer Doggs will play their second game as the start to their region schedule Friday night at Salem in Conyers.

"Obviously, I think we played very well, but with all of the weather and not having a game in two weeks, I see some weaknesses and some rest, so I’m eager to get back on it," Karas admitted. "We’ve got a big region game on Friday, which is scary for me, because we’ve only had one game.

"I think everybody’s in the same boat."

Karas’ primary concern when looking at the team was cohesion and chemistry, but he also admits that he was playing with the lineup a bit tonight trying to give younger players some more time on the field.

"There were a few lapses in communication, so that’s some of that cohesion I want to work on," Karas noted.

Come Friday, the Soccer Doggs should get a better idea of just how much chemistry they really play with against Salem.



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