By Ivor Castle/Southern States SC
The New Orleans Jesters opened the U19 pilot at Southern States SC in Mississippi with a hard-
fought 1-1 tie. The Jesters defended grimly to keep the Stars at bay and earn themselves a split
of the honors.
For the Stars it was a disappointing result considering the pressure they subjected the visitors to,
especially in the second half.
Having defeated Pensacola FC by 3-0 the previous week, the Stars were rocked on their heels
inside five minutes as Mason Morise raced clear to score. Cruz Rangel gave away possession
and Morise’s snappy shot off the break cannoned off a post and in behind Stars keeper Guttierrez
into the opposite corner of the net.
If there was any complacency due to last week’s victory it was soon over. A hectic passage of
play followed as the Stars inevitably started to force the Jesters back looking for a quick
The Stars were unable to find clear cut openings and nearly fell further behind when this time,
Roblin, dribbling out of the back turned the ball over only for Kelton Keene to get in a superb
block tackle to squash the danger.
Entering the midpoint of the first half, the Jesters were feeding off scraps as the Stars maintained
their pressure and the possession. A promising Stars move down the left ended with Mendez
running offside as Roblin threaded a subtle pass between two defenders.
Next a dangerous Mendez cross was scrambled clear at one end and at the other Guttierrez pulled
off a super save as Woodward for the Jesters, curled a free kick underneath the angle of crossbar
While the Stars saw most of the ball, poor distribution was often letting them down as they began
forcing the play.
Noah Roblin made a good run deep into the Jesters’ penalty area and in behind the defense
latching onto Mendez’s left wing cross but he failed to make sufficient contact to trouble
Schumacher in the visitors’ goal.
At the other end it was Morise who was causing trouble and from a foul on the striker, Guttierrez
again came up with the needed save from the resultant free kick.
The Stars started brightly as play recommenced with the Jesters sitting in and defending stoutly.
The Stars’ pressure and wing play was forcing the Jesters deeper into their own half and although
there were no clear-cut chances, the Stars offense was getting more of the ball in dangerous
What seemed like the inevitable equalizer finally arrived and it was no less than the Stars
deserved. Romar Smith corralled Elean Fajardo’s feed and rifled home a rising effort into the
Jesters’ goal leaving Schumacher helpless.
With more than 30 minutes still to go in the game there was plenty of time for the Stars to
engineer a winner. Casey Heustess replaced Noah Roblin for the first substitution of the game as
head coach Carl Reynolds looked to provide the go-ahead opportunity from the bench.
Kelton Keene picked up the first yellow card of the game for a foul on Morise who was a
constant thorn in the Stars’ defensive side.
As time progressed, spaces were opening up in the midfield and the home team started to further
dominate though clear chances were still tough to construct as the Jesters continued defending
bravely in front of their own penalty area.
On occasions the Jesters looked like a boxer on the ropes, but the Stars needed to be aware of not
falling to a late sucker punch.
The game became a loop of Stars’ attacks and Jesters’ clearances. The visitors rarely threatened
on offense, but their long ball clearances were always chased down, and the Stars had to remain
vigilant and focused, despite enjoying the territorial advantage.
In the last 15 minutes Sam Lambert replaced Michael Colburn for the Stars and the Jesters also
made changes. It was still the Stars' pressing and Jesters’ defending.
On 78 minutes Casey Heustess shot from KJ Mack’s cross only for Schumacher in the Jesters’
goal to come up with another solid save. The Jesters keeper was also quick off his line to snuff
out a number of through balls and was enjoying an excellent game.
As an enthralling game was coming to its last minutes, the Stars had a couple more chances as
Elean Fajardo’s free kick hooked agonizingly wide of the post and Romar Smith’s effort from a
narrow angle hit the outside netting.
Smith had another shot saved as normal time wound down and in added time Cruz Rangel
headed wide and Smith again shot goalward but without the accuracy needed to trouble
The game ended even with the Stars thinking they should have won and the Jesters’ thinking
they earned their reward for a resolute defensive performance.
After the game Jesters head coach Igor Siscov expressed his feelings about his team’s
“We faced a very tough opponent,” Siscov said. “I watched them play here (against Pensacola
FC). I was really impressed, we tried to stop them. We are a new team, we are building. We
needed to manage the game against a very good team.”
Jesters goalscorer Mason Morise agreed with his head coach in his postgame comments.
“It was a hard-fought game for us,” Morise said. “We knew the talent of Southern States, they
are a very good team. All credit to them they defend well, attack well, get down the flanks but
we got the draw and we’re more than happy with that.”
However, Smith was disappointed.
“Yeah, disappointed, disappointed just because of the chance I had in the last five or six
minutes,” Smith said. “I thought we had it.”
Reynolds remained positive despite losing the early goal.
“When that happens you can crumble, we just talked about relaxing and keeping to our
principles, keep sticking at it,” Reynolds said. “I said to them, on any other day, (you get) second
goal, third goal, fourth goal but that’s football. Hopefully, we’ll get our little bit of luck
somewhere else along this season. Really, really proud of the boys tonight.”
Photo Credit: 3Smedia