The Oakes, Oak Grove, Miss. –
A strong but short-lived storm blew through The Oakes in Mississippi, home of the Southern States Soccer Club, threatening the U19 pilot league game against AFC Mobile, Friday night. Thankfully, it blew through as quickly as it arrived and after only a 10-minute delay the game began.
SC Stars were coming off a three-game losing streak following a promising three-game unbeaten run that had opened their pilot league campaign. AFC Mobile who had suffered disruptions to their season due to the recent hurricane that affected the area, were coming off their first win of the season after defeating the New Orleans Jesters by 3-2.
The Stars had
already beaten Mobile on the road this season and despite the visitors boost from their first win of the season, it was the home team who started the strongest. In complete control from the off, the Stars were given a 15-minute lead as Romar Smith took Casey Heustess’ cute pass following good work from Sam Lambert out on the right flank to fire home.
There was no let-up as the Stars dominated play and Heustess scored from Jason Garcia’s pass to make it 2-0 on 23 minutes.
Mobile was ineffective as an attacking threat and the Stars bossed possession, switching play, and moving the Mobile rearguard around at will. The Alabama based club were suffering from a weakened team lacking a number of first team regulars and it was hurting them considerably as the Stars were relentless in pursuit of a third that could kill the game off.
On 36 minutes that goal duly arrived. Noah Roblin latched onto a partially cleared corner-kick to guide the ball home from 20 yards and past Cael Collins between the Mobile sticks. It was to prove a busy night for the ‘keeper.
The half-time whistle arrived much to the Mobile team’s relief but there was the worst of the storm yet to come..
The second period began as the first, with the Stars on top. Just as the skies had opened up pre-game for about 20 minutes, so too did the Stars offense as they helped themselves to six goals in 20 minutes, between the 55th and 75th minutes.
Heustess (55) grabbed his second of the game assisted by Bennett Gibson. Two minutes later Jason Garcia (57) was fouled in the box and picked himself up to slot home the resultant penalty-kick. Gibson then helped himself to a goal (61) from Sam Lambert and Romar Smith (65) powered the ball home unassisted for his second and the games seventh. Substitute Clint Ryals (72) took another Gibson assist to net before another substitute, Karson Kratz (75) rounded off the 9-0 score-line with a cool near-post finish from Kenneth Mack’s cross.
Mobile hung on grimly during the final 15 minutes to avert a double-digit beating and never gave up. They had encountered a perfect storm of missing talent on their side and catching the Southern States SC Stars in impressive form and with their shooting boots loaded.
Diego Gutierrez in the Stars’ goal was hardly bothered and did not make a save of note throughout the entire game.
Stars Man of the Match Bennett Gibson (pictured) explained the team’s and his motivation tonight. “We were frustrated by recent past performances and we went out there to show what we can really do. I missed a couple of games in the beginning and I wanted to make up for it and prove my ability. I’m hoping the coach will keep me in for Wednesday night now”.
AFC Mobile head coach Steve Wieczorek was still upbeat at the end of the game saying, “Credit to the guys, they never gave up, they fought, you know what they went to the ninetieth minute, that’s all we can ask of them. The circumstances weren’t ideal tonight (regarding missing talent) but we gave our all tonight and I can’t fault the lads”.
For Stars head coach Carl Reynolds, it was about seeing his team bounce back. “It was a really good performance the boys have earned it, we’ve had some tough times, really happy with the performance and especially that we didn’t drop our standards once we were in front.”
And on the final game upcoming against the New Orleans Jesters. “We are really looking forward to the challenge, obviously its going to be a really difficult place to play, they gave us a tough game when we played them here a few weeks back, so we’re looking forward to the challenge and hopefully we can put in a similar type of performance and get a similar type of result.”