STARKVILLE — With both teams playing their first game after a couple of weeks off for the holidays, the Starkville High School boys soccer team came out on top 2-0 against Starkville Academy on Tuesday night in a non-district clash at Starkville High School.
The Yellow Jackets (9-3-2) came in riding a six-game winning streak, including a 3-0 win over Grenada last Saturday, and they controlled matters from the start. Their wing backs provided excellent opportunities from out wide with a speed and technical advantage, and their midfield rarely let their opponents behind them when possession turned over.
They struggled to find the finishing touch on the numerous chances they created, but their expert ball retention gave them the tactical control to see the game out comfortably.
“This is something we’ve been trying to do all season, run this 3-5-2, clog up the midfield, and keep possession as long as possible, and counter off their mistakes,” Jackets head coach Evinn Watson said. “Wing backs are a big part of our formation, and we try to go through them as much as possible as they have so much space to run into.”
Starkville found the back of the net just 16 minutes into the match, as Max Bueller turned a corner kick past the SA keeper to make it 1-0. They would have to wait nearly an hour of play for their second goal, however, as the Volunteers kept their shape and remained organized. Though they only broke out and created chances for themselves on a couple of occasions, their hard defensive work showed
“I always say that’s probably my philosophy, if we’re gonna be good at anything we better be good defensively,” Vols head coach John Morgan said. ”You can do a lot of things if you have a good defense. It can keep you in a lot of games, and I thought our defense did well tonight. They were constantly bombarded and had to hold their own to keep it 2-0.”
The second goal for the Jackets came on a nice hit from Ben Bueller, Max’s brother, and was again the result of play following a set piece. The Jackets also missed a penalty, taken and sent wide of the target by goalkeeper Griffin Davis, and left winger Sterling Scott nearly netted another goal for the Jackets but was just off on the finishing touch after dribbling past two Volunteer defenders to go one-on-one with the keeper.
The Jackets’ season continues Friday with a district matchup at Oxford, a game that could help them secure a district title. The Volunteers play again this week as well, facing Heritage Academy on Thursday in district play with hopes to build on their 6-3 record.