By Ivor Castle/Southern States SC
A strong but short-lived storm blew through The Oakes in Mississippi, home of the Southern
States Soccer Club, threatening the U-19 pilot match against AFC Mobile on Friday night.
Thankfully, it blew through as quickly as it arrived and after only a 10-minute delay the game
Southern States SC Stars were coming off a three-game losing streak following a promising
three-game unbeaten run that had opened their pilot 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. The Stars were
given a 15-minute lead as Romar Smith took Casey Heustess’ pass following good work from
Sam Lambert out on the right flank to fire home.
There was no letup as the Stars dominated play and Heustess scored from Jason Garcia’s pass to
make it 2-0 in the 23rd minute.
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.
In the 36th minute 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
proved to be a busy night for the goalkeeper.
The halftime whistle arrived much to the Mobile team’s relief.
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 55 th and 75 th minutes.
Heustess (55’) grabbed his second of the game assisted by Bennett Gibson. Two minutes later
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 Lambert and Smith (65’) powered the ball home
unassisted for his second and the game’s seventh. Substitute Clint Ryals (72’) took another
Gibson assist to net before another substitute, Karson Kratz (75’), rounded off the 9-0 scoreline
with a cool near post finish from Kenneth Mack’s cross.
Mobile had encountered a perfect storm of missing talent on their side and catching the Southern
States SC Stars in impressive form.
Diego Gutierrez in the Stars goal was hardly bothered and did not make a save of note
throughout the entire game.
Gibson, who was named the Stars Man of the Match, explained the team’s motivation tonight.
“We were frustrated by recent past performances and we went out there to show what we can
really do,” Gibson said. “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.
“Credit to the guys,” Wieczorek said. “They never gave up, they fought, you know what they
went to the 90h 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,” Reynolds said. “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.”
Reynolds now looks to the final game against the New Orleans Jesters.
“We are really looking forward to the challenge,” Reynolds said. “Obviously it's 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.”
Photo Credit: 3SMedia