By 3ssoccer media
The Southern States Soccer Stars and the New Orleans Jesters played another classic in their series of must-watch matches. Southern States came out on top to earn their first win of the season. This was a much-needed win for the defending champion Stars after suffering two close losses on the road in Florida to open their fall U-19 campaign.
As is custom for Southern States they dominated possession throughout the match. But their rivals from New Orleans proved worthy adversaries answering every score. That is until the 94th minute when striker Romar Smith took a long cross from Karson Kratz and scored on what color commentator Nigel Boulton called “a moment of individual brilliance.”
With his back to the goal, Smith received a brilliant long ball from Kratz on the edge of the box and when the Jesters goalkeeper came off his line, Smith turned and volleyed the winning goal into the far corner with his left foot.
“It is an amazing feeling,” said Smith referring to the last-second game-winner.
Coming home to play at the majestic Oakes facility in Hattiesburg proved to be a sweet homecoming for the Stars after dropping their first two games of the season on the road against Tallahassee and Panama City.
The close losses did not deter coach Cruz Rangel from playing several of his younger players tonight.
“This squad has a lot of players, young players, they just play, always ready for the call-up, and they took their chances and went on and I am really proud of that,” Rangel said.
The teams played to a 0-0 draw at halftime, but possession was lopsided with the Stars connecting on passes and creating chances. The Stars earned three corner kicks compared to zero for the Jesters. Southern States also produced six shots on goal in the first half compared to one by the Jesters. In the 24th minute, Stars left back Teryn Davis nearly scored only to be denied by a brilliant defensive play by a Jesters defender at the goal line.
In the second half, Romar Smith opened the scoring with the first of his two goals in the 48th minute off an assist from Liam Bennett. The Jesters bounced right back when Kyle Ayres took a long ball over the top of the Stars high line and chipped in a pretty goal from 30 yards out. Southern States responded with a 67th minute header by Jason Garcia off a corner from Teryn Davis to go up 2-1.
Once again, the resilient Jesters responded by earning a penalty kick in the 79th minute which Eddie Choe calmly put away to tie the score at 2-2. The penalty was earned by a brilliant run from Jesters’ midfielder Adamandios Toras who won the ball in his own half and carried it to the Stars penalty box.
The game seemed destined to end in a draw until Smith’s heroics in the final minute. It was a devastating result for the valiant visitors from New Orleans but seemed a just outcome given the run of the play. The Stars have dominated possession and shots on goal against every opponent this season and tonight they were rewarded with their first victory of the season.
Photo Credit: 3ssoccer media