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Cards give Cougars direct challenge

By Thomas Sellers Jr.Tip Soccer Cherry up sideline Tip Soccer Futrell move

Munford Cougar Tyler Futrell (1) goes for the ball at the same time as Cardinal Justin Krachen during last's week game.

Munford Cougar Tyler Futrell (1) goes for the ball at the same time as Cardinal Justin Krachen during last’s week game.

When the Munford Cougars recently traveled to Dyer County for a District 13-3A rematch, the Choctaws employed new strategy to combat the undefeated and once scored on Cougars.
For large portions of that game Dyer County used 10 defenders near their goalie to neutralize the Munford offensive attack. The move sort of worked with the game ending in a scoreless tie.
That result set up a District 13-3A showdown for the regular season championship April 21 at the Munford Soccer Field between Tipton County rivals Munford and the Brighton Cardinals.
With the winner taking the No. 1 seed for the upcoming District 13-3A Tournament, the Cougars got a first half goal from Jesper Kemp and some insurance in the second half from the foot of Julian Morris to prevail 2-0.
The shutout victory also kept Munford unbeaten on the regular season and still the only goal scored against the Cougars and senior goalie Erik Furseth this season was at Bolton.
“It keeps our confidence up,” Furseth said of shutouts. “I know it keeps mine up and my defense’s up to know no one is going to score on us this season. We’ve had one slip up but that’s behind us. You just have to look forward to the next game and play it like it’s your last.
”We played really well tonight and we practiced to combat that strategy if anyone else plans to do that like Dyer County,” he continued. “But just practice and keeping yourself focused, you have to keep yourself healthy to get ready for the next game. It’s about looking forward, don’t worry about that last game you played.”
Furseth said the Cougars quickly learned from the Dyer County game and prepared for their rivals Brighton. The Cardinals were defeated 3-0 earlier in the season by the Cougars.
Although Munford was victorious 2-0, some of the Cardinals left the field seeing positives from the previous game.
“We surely played them better this time around,” Brighton captain Austin Chapman said. “We’ve all gone to school and grown up together. The first time it just really didn’t feel right. To come out here and give the performance we did this time, does feel a whole lot better.”
The Cardinals possess the ball mostly in the opening minutes of the game. But the Cougars created an opportunity for a score around the 13th minute. Kemp connected on a free kick to make the score 1-0.
The final 27 minutes of the first half, Brighton battled with the Cougars to a stalemate. Cardinal goalie Justin Scoggins made a couple of athletic saves to preserve the 1-0 deficit at the break.
Early in the second half Scoggins tried to use his athleticism to stop another Munford shot, but Morris was able to get the ball past him to make the tally 2-0.
The two squad trade possession for the next few minutes until the Cardinals went on the attack in the final five minutes of the game. It was time for Furseth to prove why he is one of the best goalies in the nation and a University of Memphis signee.
Furseth made a diving and fully-stretched out leaping save during that timeframe. Later Brighton had a penalty kick chance. Furseth guess correctly and was able to stop the shot.
“I just did my job,” Furseth said. “My team was playing hard so I figured I have to strive to keep it up. Just because they’re playing hard doesn’t mean I can just relax.”
Chapman said Furseth did his usual thing but the final minutes of the game will be used as another learning tool for the Cardinals.
“That definitely gives us confidence seeing the pressure we were able to put on them,” he said. “Give it to their keeper, he’s a fantastic friend and player on the field. It was just unlucky not to put one in. But it does give us hope.”
As May approaches, Chapman said the Cardinals will use the leadership of their seven seniors to bond for a postseason run.
”Communication and give the same heart,” he said. “Honestly we could have had one in this game. I think we just have to keep momentum at times, play together and play as a family.”
Furseth said the Cougars have a cohesive unit that stays ready for all challenges from Dyer County to Brighton.
”We’re always ready for them,” he said. “They’re in our county so we’re ready for (the Cardinals). Not just any particular game, we’re ready for all of them.
“Any team that wants to come up against us, we’re ready to play,” Furseth concluded. “We’ll play them straight up, no weird strategy like Dyer County did. We’ll play them straight up.

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