From Staff Reports
Murray County High School boys soccer coach Marco Burgueno wasn’t about to play down Wednesday’s victory versus Calhoun.
“This is the biggest win of the season,” he said.
The Indians scored in the final 10 minutes and won 2-1 at home against the Yellow Jackets, who entered the game atop the Region 7-2A standings and ranked second in eurosportscoreboard.com’s Class 2A poll.
Murray County (14-3-1, 14-2), ranked seventh in 2A, entered Wednesday’s match second in the region standings and may be able to claim a split of the title.
Calhoun, which won 1-0 in the earlier meeting this season between the two teams, was undefeated in region matches before the loss. If the Yellow Jackets lose their final game, which Burgueno said is later this week, the teams will finish tied in records with neither having the head-to-head tiebreaker. Burgueno said Calhoun probably would win the tiebreaker of fewest goals allowed, but Murray County would finish second regardless and earn at least one home match in the state tournament.
“Calhoun played a great game,” Burgueno said. “They took a lot of shots on goal. We took advantage of the shots we got and played with a lot of heart.”
Juanito Bautista scored first in the 10th minute to give the Indians a lead. The Yellow Jackets tied it right before halftime, and the score stayed 1-1 much of the second half. In the 71st minute, midfielder Jose Ruiz found glory and the back of the net on a free kick.
Calhoun took seven shots on goal while Murray County took four. Indians goalkeeper Humberto Alvarez made six saves.
“The guys played great. It came down to the final few minutes and they were threatening until the end,” Burgueno said.
Last year, playing in Region 7-3A with Dalton and Southeast Whitfield, Murray County finished fifth, one place shy of a state tournament berth.
“That’s why this year the returning players, which we had a lot of new ones, but they knew we could hang with them,” Burgueno said. “It’s a real big win. The guys are really happy about winning that one. And the weather made it all the more dramatic. It was slick but wasn’t sloshy. It rained hard for a little but was mostly just mist.”
Murray County is the fourth area boys soccer team to clinch a home match for next week’s first round of the state playoffs. The Indians’ opponent is unknown, but they will play next Friday.
North Murray, the Region 5-3A champion, will play next Friday at home versus Franklin County. Region 5-3A No. 3 seed Coahulla Creek travels to Oconee County the same day.
Of the Region 7-4A teams — all set to play Wednesday — the champion Dalton Catamounts will host Stone Mountain, runner-up Northwest Whitfield hosts Grady and No. 3 seed Southeast Whitfield travels to Chamblee.
Northwest is the only local girls team in the state tournament. The Lady Bruins, Region 7-4A’s No. 3 seed, will play on the road Tuesday versus Grady.
Times for all matches are to be determined.
• Calhoun girls 8, Murray County 1: Sandra Ramirez scored her first goal of the year, but it was the lone bright spot for the Lady Indians (9-9, 9-7 Region 7-2A) in their season finale.
Murray County trailed 7-0 at halftime, and the second half was cut to just 20 minutes by the Georgia High School Association’s mercy rule. Goalkeeper Kelsey Pack, one of 10 seniors on the roster, played her final game in a Lady Indians uniform and made 11 saves.
Murray County coach Mandy Ledford said the Lady Indians set a program record for wins this year. Last season, the team won one game.
“We had six starting seniors who are graduating but some younger (junior varsity) girls who will feed into the system,” she said. “That’s what it’s all about. We’re blessed to have enough girls now to have a JV program. I’m looking forward to what’s to come.”
Ramirez, a sophomore, is one of the players Ledford hopes continues the progress made.
The team finished fifth in league standings, one spot shy of qualifying for the state tournament.
“It’s the closest our girls team has come in our school history,” Ledford said. “I’m proud of them for that. There’s always the future, so we’ll build for that.”
• River Ridge 4, Dalton 3: The Catamounts (11-13) lost in 11 innings when the host Knights brought home the winning run via a squeeze play.
Dalton, Sub-region 7B-4A’s No. 3 seed, now must win both games of today’s 5 p.m. doubleheader in Woodstock to earn a berth in the Class 4A state playoffs, which start next week. River Ridge is the No. 2 seed from Sub-region 7A-4A.
“It was very tough, but I think we’ll bounce back well,” Cats coach Shane Ramsey said. “We’ve got Brandon (Dale) throwing in the first game (today). We had our chances tonight and couldn’t finish it. Their starting pitcher was good, but we had our chances and couldn’t finish it. We’ll be better tomorrow.”
Dakota Tankersley had a hit — one of two for the Cats — and an RBI, while Kaleb Hill had a sacrifice fly.
Will Erwin pitched eight innings, allowing three runs off three hits while striking out four. Dale pitched a perfect ninth, while Matt Wells pitched the final two innings and allowed one run off one hit.
The Cats trailed 1-0 early but tied it 1-1 in the fifth inning. Dalton scored twice in the seventh to take a 3-1 lead but River Ridge matched that number in the bottom half to force extra innings.