The Oakes Training Center, Oak Grove, Miss. –
The Southern States S.C. Stars U-19 were coming off a disappointing home loss to the Florida Roots on Sunday and had the opportunity to get back to winning ways at home to the New Orleans Jesters, Tuesday night. The Roots had given the Stars their first defeat in the three opening games.
The Jesters in contrast were looking for their first win after opening with a home loss against the Stars followed by a second home reverse against Port City FC.
The game opened in frantic manner with both teams eager to push forward and attack in a scrappy opening 15 minutes. The Stars had most of the possession, but the Jesters remained dangerous with the long ball in behind the Stars back-line.
Forward Papi Diouf was making his debut for the Stars and causing problems for the Jesters having a shout for a penalty turned down before the game exploded with two quick goals. The Jesters drove a long ball forward, which was helped on over the Stars backline and then out of seemingly nothing Matthew Marquez lobbed the ball over debutant Star’s keeper Ethan Crump for the opening goal of the game on 18 minutes. Also on his debut, the 15-year-old Southern States Academy player had little to do up to that point.
However, the scores were tied again immediately from the kick-off when Papi Diouf latched on to Michael Colburn’s cross to volley home from 12 yards out. The Jesters lead was short lived indeed. The rest of the half was an even contest in terms of chances created but the Stars maintained the positive possession stats.
In the opening 20 minutes of the second half the Stars had the better chances and forced a number of corner-kicks with the Jesters again relying on quick, long balls out of defense to try and catch the Stars out.
In the 66th minute they did just that. A long ball from the half-way line eluded two Stars defenders and they allowed Santos Cacho to sneak in on goal and scramble the ball beyond Crump to put the Jesters in front. It was a goal similar in many respects to the Jesters opener.
The Stars kept probing and creating opportunities without ever finishing them off. The Jesters were defending stoutly and still looking dangerous on the counter as the home team pushed forward in search of the tying goal. Diouf was a constant thorn in the side of the Jesters defense and Atilla Sepkin started to dominate the midfield for the Stars.
As the pressure and the chances mounted there was always the possibility that the Jesters could break out and steal another goal, but the Stars continued to forge ahead.
Finally, in the 84th minute Diouf smashed in an equalizer from close range as the Jesters failed to clear another Stars corner-kick and it was 2-2.
And yet the drama was not over. As the Jesters found an opportunity to get the ball high into the Stars penalty area following a throw-in, they were caught light at the back as Noah Roblin smashed a clearance into the Jesters half where Diouf raced onto the ball as it bounced toward XXX in the Jesters goal. The ‘keeper looked favorite to win the race but slipped at the worse time allowing Diouf to run the ball into the empty net and give a 3-2 victory to the Stars. The scenes of celebration were amazing as all the Stars players congratulated Diouf on his hat-trick and his last gasp winner.
The Jesters dropped to 0-3 on the season while the Stars improved to 3-1 completing an early double over the New Orleans outfit.
Coach Carl Reynolds for the Stars said, “I’m delighted with their application tonight. The Jesters were tough tonight and they made it difficult for us, but we kept at it, we kept trusting the process and we got our rewards in the end, so we’re delighted, everyone is delighted”.
Hat-trick hero Papi Diouf on his debut wasn’t entirely happy, “I mean it feels good right now, it wasn’t what I was expecting, it wasn’t good enough, we just needed a win today and we got it. It wasn’t like a good game but we’re happy we got the three points.”
For the Jesters assistant coach Amandios Toras thought, “It was a well fought game by both teams. Both teams had opportunities, Southern States finished their chances, set plays, we maybe had opportunities, we could have finished a few at the beginning of the game but it was a good, exciting game for both sides back and for, now we’re looking forward to the next one.”