Sports

June 7, 2014

Former Murray County star leads Georgia to all-star soccer win

CHATTANOOGA — Former Murray County High School standout Jose Ruiz connected on a header in the 79th minute for what proved to be the game-winning goal as Georgia edged Tennessee 2-1 in the 11th edition of the Stump on Sports All-Star Classic boys soccer match Friday at Finley Stadium.

Ruiz’s goal completed a second-half comeback for the Peach State stars, who trailed 1-0 at halftime despite having several good scoring chances in the first 40 minutes.

“There is quality talent all around on both sides, but in all-star games, you’re never really sure how the talent will come together,” said Calhoun coach Matt Rice, who headed up Team Georgia. “However, our guys really started putting it together, really from the very first practice we had, and I think that really showed out here today.”

Tennessee struck first when it came to scoring, though, finding the net in the 19th minute as the speedy Anfernee Avila (Cleveland) gathered up a long punt by keeper Jonathan Crossman (Chattanooga Christian), beat a defender near the top of the box and caught Georgia keeper Raul Moreno (Calhoun) out of position before sliding an easy shot into the back of the net.

Georgia had three excellent scoring opportunities in the first half. Two came in the 23rd minute, but Crossman knocked down a header by Ruiz before recovering to stop a hard shot from Pedro Garcia (Coahulla Creek).

Crossman was equal to the task again in the 35th minute, exchanging a bloody nose for a diving knockdown of a Ruiz blast from point-blank range. A follow-up shot was smothered in the box by Tennessee’s defense to preserve the precarious lead.

Georgia came out with an extra burst of urgency to open the second half, peppering the Tennessee goal with multiple shots in the first three minutes before finally breaking through in the 48th minute. Following a long run and a pass from Ruiz, Miguel Villa (Northwest) put a ball through the box right on the foot of Garcia, who one-timed it past Tennessee keeper Adam Pickett (Signal Mountain).

Both teams missed great chances to take the lead over the next 20 minutes of action. A save by Manuel Gonzalez (North Murray) on a free kick from 11 yards out kept the score tied and Pickett make a great leaping save on a shot in the 65th minute before seeing another shot sail high two minutes later.

But with just over 10 minutes remaining in the match and a penalty-kick shootout looming, Ruiz, who was selected the Georgia Player of the Game, went to work. After taking a long pass down the left side of the pitch, he made a move past a defender and fired on the goal only to have the ball carom off the bottom of the crossbar.

Ruiz followed with a header that also clanked off the crossbar, but with Pickett trying to scramble to his feet and Tennessee being unable to clear the ball out of danger, Ruiz’s second header found its mark to put Georgia in front for good.

Georgia outshot Tennessee 14-9, with Crossman and Moreno making four saves each. Crossman was named the Tennessee Player of the Game for his first-half shutout effort.

The win snapped a four-match winning streak for Tennessee, which leads the all-time series 8-2.

The annual Stump on Sports All-Star Classic series — all of this year’s competitions will be in Chattanooga — continues with today’s 7 p.m. football game at Boyd-Buchanan High School. Girls and boys basketball games are at 6 and 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Notre Dame High School, while the girls soccer match is at 4 p.m. on June 13 at Finley Stadium. The final day of action is June 18, with 6 p.m. starts for baseball at McCallie School and softball at Frost Stadium.

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