Lumpkin boys soccer downs Murray and Buford

  • The Lumpkin varsity boys soccer team celebrates after defeating Murray County in penalty kicks to earn the team’s first win of the 2020 season.
    The Lumpkin varsity boys soccer team celebrates after defeating Murray County in penalty kicks to earn the team’s first win of the 2020 season.

The LCHS varsity boys soccer team improved to 2-2-0 after the Indians bounced back from a loss to North Murray by pulling out two thrilling come-from-behind victories against North Murray and Buford last week.
Having lost their season opener 1-0 to the Chestatee War Eagles, the Indians hoped to get a better result and their first win of 2020 when they hosted North Murray at the Burial Grounds at Cottrell Field on Tuesday, Feb. 18.
Unfortunately for Lumpkin, North Murray had different ideas and controlled the contest from beginning to end to hand the Indians a 3-0 loss.
Despite the Indians’ efforts to halt the North Murray offensive attack and build scoring opportunities of their own, Lumpkin was unable to make the stops necessary nor were they able to find the back of the net versus North Murray.
The loss dropped the Indians’ overall record to 0-2-0.
The following night, Feb. 19, the Indians were back on the pitch at the Burial Grounds for a match versus Murray County.
Lumpkin fell behind Murray County 1-0 in the opening minutes of the match before Gage Benton was able to equalize with a Lumpkin County goal to even the score at 1-1.
However, the tie was short lived as Murray County proceeded to strike for two more goals to take a 3-1 advantage into the halftime break.
The Indians received another goal from Benton to start the second half which closed the gap between the two squads to 3-2. Lumpkin continued to battle on the pitch and kept attacking the Murray County defensive backline, hoping to score the equalizing goal.
With 5:38 left in the match, Benton did just that when he blasted a shot past the Murray County keeper for his third goal of the match. Benton’s hat trick allowed the Indians to even the score at 3-3.
The score remained the same until the end of regulation. Due to both teams being in Class AAA, a winner had to be decided and the two teams went into overtime.
Neither team was able to break down the other’s defense during the two overtime periods, forcing the match to be decided by penalty kicks.
The penalty kick phase started out rocky for the Indians, with Dylan Bodney’s shot being knocked out by the Murray County keeper and LCHS goalkeeper Efrain Contreras not being able to record a save on Murray County’s first penalty shot.
Murray County retook the lead at 2-0 with their next shot, but Joe Froggatt cut that lead in half with a powerful blast that found the net and made the score 2-1.
Contreras then came up with his biggest save of the match when he made a diving save to keep Murray County out of the net and keep the score 2-1.
Benton, who had already played hero for the Indians with his hat trick in regulation, once again displayed his rocket leg with a beautifully placed shot that the Murray County keeper had no chance at getting to. Benton’s sure-footed kick tied the two teams at 2-2.
Murray County’s next attempt ricocheted off the top crossbar and the score remained 2-2.
Lumpkin’s Josue Ramirez followed and broke the deadlock with a monster shot that beat the Murray County keeper and gave the Indians a 3-2 lead.
Murray County’s next shot went over the top bar, sealing the Indians’ come-from-behind victory by a final score of 4-3.
“I was extremely proud of the boys,” said LCHS head boys coach Bill Madigan after the thrilling win. “Having played North Murray the previous night and losing 3-0 and then be down 3-1 at the half to Murray that match could have gone in a completely different direction. We challenged them at half that at some point they needed to take responsibility for their effort and they needed to play with heart. We told them that losing was not an option and they needed a warrior mentality in the second half. They responded to our challenge and that win can be the foundation of our season.”
Madigan was also impressed with the individual performances of Benton and Contreras in the match.
“Gage [Benton] was tremendous last night,” Madigan said. “He had a hat trick for us. We changed our formation so that we could get him more opportunities on goal and he delivered. I think the players around him will get better and he will continue to be an important piece in what we are trying to do. Gage needs to continue to grow as a leader and lead this team. Efrain [Contreras] also came up big last night. I am very lucky to have Matt Sharman on staff who played keeper at UNG and he has been a tremendous asset to Efrain and our program. Efrain is solid in the goal and he is improving. He has to continue to grow and improve in some areas in order for us to take the next step and his performance against Murray County was a big step in that direction.”
The victory improved the Indians’ overall record to 1-2-0.
Lumpkin followed its thrilling come-from-behind win over Murray County with another comeback win against the Buford Wolves at the Burial Grounds at Cottrell Field on Friday, Feb. 21.
After a back-and-forth first half of action, the Wolves went into the halftime break with a slight 1-0 advantage.
However, the Indians offense heated up in the second half and was able to outscore Buford 4-2 in the second half of play to earn a 4-3 come-from-behind victory, marking their second in-a-row.
The thrilling affair improved the Indians’ overall record to 2-2-0 on the season.
Madigan was thrilled with the win and the improvements that his players have shown since their preseason scrimmage loss against Clarke Central.
“Since the scrimmage against Clarke Central we really stressed defensive responsibility in our training sessions and as a group they have been working very hard in this area and have improved greatly,” Madigan said. “Being a new staff we knew that it would take a few matches to truly understand what kind of team we had and who could play where and have stressed that early on we would face some challenges, but we would get it right. I think w’ve taken a big step in the right direction.”
Madigan credits the team buying into his philosophy of discipline as a major factor during the team’s two-game win streak.
“I completely believe that players are starting to buy in what we are trying to instill when it comes to discipline,” Madigan said. “Being a former Army soldier I believe that attention to detail and the little things make a huge difference in the big picture of what we are trying to accomplish as a program. Being on time, wearing proper attire to school on match days, having the locker room clean and orderly before we go out and play these are little things that don’t make their soccer skills better but make them pay more attention on the pitch. We have continued to stay on them about the little things and it is starting to show up on the pitch in the way we execute.”
At press time, the Indians were set to take part in the first round of the CMC Tournament hosted by LCHS starting on Monday, Feb. 24. No official results were available.
The CMC Tournament will finish up today, Feb. 26, and Friday, Feb. 28.
The LCHS varsity boys soccer team will begin region play when the Indians take on the East Hall Vikings at the Burial Grounds at Cottrell Field on Tuesday, March 3. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.