By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Finish No. 1 and No. 2, you will earn a berth in the Region 7-3A Soccer Tournament in October. With the coaches voting not to have a district tournament this season, the showdown at the Munford Soccer Field Thursday night was vital for the visiting Arlington Lady Tigers and host Munford Lady Cougars.
As darkness settled over the natural grass turf, the score was 1-1. With less than 5 minutes remaining in the game, Arlington got aggressive on the offensive end. The ball was passed just outside of the goalie box and Lady Tiger Hailey Owen contacted with a laser that found the back of the net.
A few moments later, the officials sounded the whistle, ending the game with the Lady Tigers 2-1 victors.
“We were No. 1 before this game,” Munford Head Coach Stan Jamscek said. “We scored more goals against Brighton. So tonight was a crucial game, a fight for first place. Who will host the finals of districts. So now we would have to go to them. We’re second now.”
Arlington established early its intentions to ruin Senior Night for Lady Cougar Demis Brown. Through a physical battle with several players hitting the deck, the Lady Tigers took a 1-0 lead before halftime courtesy of a Maggie Presley goal. Presley blasted a shot from about 30 yards out that was just out of the reach of the Munford backup goalie.
The physical play continued for the next 45 minutes of the contest with the Lady Cougars drawing a foul just outside the goalie box. With the score 1-0 late in the second half, Munford recruited its solo senior leader to take the free kick.
Brown lined up the ball and approached her shot, aiming for a portion of the goal. Brown’s attempt hit the top of the crossbar and dropped over the head of the Arlington goalie, trickling across the line for the tie.
The Lady Cougars were still in a position to hold on to the top spot despite physical play, Arlington providing a challenge and the suspension of leading scorer Maiya Reed.
“It was very difficult for us,” Coach Stan said. “It was an absolute undeserved red card after the game. It really hurt us. We didn’t expect that. So it was a very difficult two games without Maiya. First we were without our goalkeeper because of her concussion. She was not cleared. Then the Maiya red card we lose our leader, best player. It was very difficult tonight.”
Jamscek said he was proud of his players’ efforts trying to overcome the lineup changes and give Brown an ideal Senior Night.
“It was awesome to see the way they played,” he said. “They all stepped up for Demis. It was Senior Night for Demis. She was the one to score the goal. We talked earlier in the classroom today about the game. We said, ‘Let’s go out there and play our best for Demis and Maiya tonight,’” Jamscek continued. “But the good thing is we’re going to see Arlington again with a full roster of players. So I am looking forward to seeing them again.”
The reason why Munford has to travel to see Arlington again was the late goal from Owen. The Lady Tigers and Head Coach Joel Shores celebrated the achievement of locking up a Regional spot.
“That’s what’s important, being No. 1 in our district,” Shores said. “Munford was a potential stumbling block. We were able to overcome that. We’re in first place now and hopefully we’ll be able to stay there for the remainder.”
The Munford win made Arlington 4-0 in league play. The Lady Tigers played with a sense of urgency to make sure their district record stayed perfect to close out the Munford game.
“They have the endurance and they know what they needed to do,” Shores concluded. “They did it. They never gave up. They believed in each other. They fought for the ball and put it in the back of the net.”