The Suwannee Bulldogs took on the Lafayette County Hornets in Mayo on Tuesday, Jan. 10, in a rematch of a mid-December game. This is the first year for soccer at Lafayette County, but the 1-5-1 Hornets have tied Taylor County and defeated Jefferson County.

Suwannee led off the scoring at minute 13 on a foul kick. After lining up, first JD Hales, then Corey Bridges ran over the ball, and Billy Moran kicked. Meanwhile Hales circled around in front of the net and left-footed Moran’s kick into the goal.

The Hornets stuck tight to the Bulldogs, trying to win the ball whenever possible. The Bulldogs scored again six minutes later as Jay Stachowicz booted in a shot from the right side with an assist from Tyler Harris.

Mayo had a couple of corner kicks later in the half, but the Suwannee defenders deflected both. The Hornets stood their ground and keeper Josue Licea had several nice saves. At the half the Bulldogs were up 2-0.

In the second period Suwannee was able to take over the scoring, wearing out the young but feisty Hornet team. In the 44th minute, Billy Moran scored on a booming left-footed kick with an assist from Corey Bridges. Ten minutes later, JD Hales passed to Cullen Boggus, who shot, rebounded the ball, shot again, and found the mark. The Hornet keeper came out of the net on a charge in minute 58 and Moran tapped the ball in behind him from the left side.

On a Hales corner kick a few minutes later, Stachowicz belted the ball into the goal. Lafayette County had a direct kick and a corner kick, but was unable to get the ball behind the Bulldog defenders. The Suwannee scoring was rounded out when Josh Hanusek converted his stolen ball and Andrew Cundiff corralled a loose ball and rocketed it into the goal from midfield. That kick made the score 8-0 and turned out the lights.

Two nights later, Suwannee met the Taylor County Bulldogs at home in a totally different game. Taylor had been a district rival in past years and the two teams were evenly matched.

In mid-November, Suwannee had bested Perry 2-1 on their field. Suwannee struck quickly in the first minute of the game as they took control of the ball and passed downfield, where Josh Asuncion crossed to Billy Moran. The Taylor goalie came out to challenge, but Moran’s kick slowly rolled into the net behind the astonished keeper.

In the next 28 minutes, Suwannee had three runs downfield and three close misses. Fate was also against them as keeper Matt Yanossy dropped a Taylor kick from the corner, which was tapped into the net in the 29th minute. Suwannee ratcheted up the pressure at the end of the half but was unable to convert. At the break, the score was tied 1-1.

In the second half, the pace picked up, as did the roughness of the play. Suwannee found it hard to complete passes as Taylor crawled all over them. In the 54th minute, in a demonstration of beautiful teamwork, Billy Moran passed downfield to JD Hales who crossed to Jay Stachowicz. Stachowicz belted it in, and Suwannee went up 2-1.

As play continued, the referees seemed to lose control of the game and roughness, puzzling fouls, and frustration increased. None of the direct kicks from fouls resulted in a score for either team. However, in the 75th minute, a Taylor forward drove a through ball downfield and faced keeper Matt Yanossy. The Taylor player faked, pulled Yanossy to the side and drove the ball behind him into the far corner of the net, tying the score 2-2.

Suwannee rose to the challenge and three minutes later, the ball ricocheted among a cluster of players in front of the opponents’ net. The Taylor keeper came out to grab it, but a quick acting Tyler Harris popped the ball into the net behind him. Suwannee hung on for two more minutes and came out on top 3-2.

Coach Frank Johnson was pleased. “It was ugly,” he said. “But any win over Taylor County is great! We had a lot of passing and good opportunities, but could not convert. Several times the team could have lost their composure, but they all kept their heads up and hung in there. The disappointing part is that we ran Taylor County into the ground the first half, but they got back in it the second half after their goal. We out-hustled the other team. Yeah, we bent, but we did not break!”

After an away game this week, the men’s district soccer tournament is here at Langford Stadium on Jan. 24. Come out to cheer the team in the difficult district matches ahead!

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