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Suwannee’s Yimmy Alvarez celebrates with fans during the Bulldogs’ 1-0 win against Columbia on Nov. 12.

LIVE OAK — Suwannee goalie Zach Lopez got a shutout in the Bulldogs’ first game of the season, beating Columbia 1-0 on Nov. 12 at Langford Stadium.

“It was a tough game, I was really impressed with the team, and our defense came up big,” coach Chris Joyner said. “We’re still trying to find our identify; it’s tough to get players coordinated as a team, but I think we’re going to have a really good season.”

Jase Kelley scored the goal to give Suwannee the win with Lopez pitching the shutout.

“Kelley was the one who put it (the ball) in the back of the net, off a slight deflections off one of the Columbia players,” Joyner said. “Sometimes that’s all it takes, some confusion (on defense) to get it in. It doesn’t have to be pretty. We missed opportunities, they missed opportunities, but your defense came up big. We rely on Zach and he came up big and had a great game. He stopped a penalty kick at Keystone.

“After the goal, the boys lit it up and started taking more shots and that’s what it takes. Once they figure that out we’re going to be on fire.”

Prior to the regular season opener, the Bulldogs took part in the Keystone Classic on Nov. 9 at Keystone Heights. The team went 1-1 in the event that included 12 teams.

Much like the opener against Columbia, Joyner said the Bulldogs missed opportunities in the classic games.

“We made several mistakes in the middle and the defensive third of field, but that is what the tournament is good for,” he said. “It lets you put your players in their respective positions and you see how they will react to different situations.”

After the season-opening win, Suwannee fell 5-0 at Gainesville on Friday.

The Bulldogs play Buchholz and Gadsden County on Monday and Tuesday at home before traveling to Godby on Thursday. They won’t play again until Dec. 2 at P.K. Yonge.

Jeff Shourds is a sports writer for the Suwannee Democrat, Jasper News and Mayo Free Press.

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