January 20, 2010 9:34:00 AM
Adam Minichino - email@example.com
CALEDONIA -- Things were set up perfectly for the Caledonia High School boys soccer team.
A victory in a penalty kick shootout at Amory High last week gave Caledonia the inside track on clinching the Class 4A, Division 3, District 1 title.
But Morgan Mansfield has coached long enough to know that nothing in sports is guaranteed.
In fact, Mansfield was concerned Monday after a lackluster practice that the Confederates wouldn''t be mentally prepared to deliver the same kind of focused effort they turned in at Amory High.
Mansfield''s worries proved to be correct.
First-half goals by Zach Khima and Howard Summers gave Amory the momentum it needed en route to a 3-0 victory Tuesday night that helped move it one step closer to securing the district title.
In the girls game Addie Forbus and Courtney Baker each had three goals to help Amory beat Caledonia 6-1.
"We pretty much got beat to every ball and got outplayed," Mansfield said. "Not for a division title you don''t see it coming. Up there, we played hard for 80 minutes and went to PKs, but your focus has to be there. They had the focus going for them."
Amory (10-3-2, 4-1 district) needs to beat Cleveland on Friday at home to clinch the title. Caledonia plays Kosciusko on Friday in its final district game.
"After the game (at Amory), they sat out there and danced on the middle of our field, so motivation wasn''t necessarily a factor," Amory coach Nathan Clayton said. "We had revenge ready for that."
Clayton said the Panthers could have won Tuesday by one goal, which would have forced a tie between the teams and necessitated a tiebreaker. A two-goal victory also would have helped move Amory closer to the district title.
Mansfield thought Caledonia (10-4, 4-1) was OK after it allowed a goal off a head flick by Khima with just under 26 minutes left to play in the first half. He admitted the defense got "lazy" on the play and that the Confederates still had time to respond.
Unfortunately, Amory stepped up the attack and used a header by Summers that caught the defense and the goalkeeper out of position to make it 2-0 with 16 minutes, 20 seconds left to play in the half.
Caledonia pushed center back Kye Van Someran into the midfield in the second half. The decision helped the Confederates muster a better attack, but their inability to string passes together or to match the Panthers'' intensity held them back.
A counterattack goal by Evan Turner with a little more than 13 minutes remaining in the match sealed the verdict.
Mansfield said his players fell into the same trap they encountered at Amory. He said his team failed to play soccer and to relax and allowed itself to be rushed. As a result, Amory used enough of its possession game to maneuver past Caledonia and to capitalize on set pieces to earn the important victory.
"You can''t pass if you''re not going to check back to the ball, make runs, and stand around and watch the game," Mansfield said. "I would say about 80 percent of the team ball-watched tonight. We just got the game taken to us. It was the exact opposite of what happened at Amory. At Amory, we went out in the first 20 minutes and took the game to them and got a goal."
Clayton also said Amory played a different game than the first meeting.
"We just made sure we capitalized (on our opportunities) tonight," Clayton said. "It was a great team effort."
n Amory 6, Caledonia 1 (G): The victory helped the Lady Panthers (11-3-2) secure the district title.
Forbus, a freshman, and Baker, a senior, proved to be too much as they repeatedly cut through the defense and had solo chances against Shaina Cruse, who made at least four saves to deny scoring chances.
Lindsey Boyd and Forbus had assists for Amory.
Peyton Stanley scored late in the first half for Caledonia (9-10), which likely will have to travel to Center Hill on Tuesday for the first round of the playoffs. Caledonia plays Kosciusko on Friday in its final district game. Amory''s victory earned it the right to play host to a first-round game.
Caledonia coach Jason Forrester said an uneven performance again proved to be a dilemma. He said the Lady Confederates didn''t play with the energy needed in the first half. As a result, a 5-1 deficit proved to be too much to overcome.
"In the two Cleveland games, we have played a complete 80 minutes," Forrester said. "Every other game, it has been the first half we played or the second half we played."
Center Hill beat Caledonia 2-0 in Tupelo earlier in the season. Forrester said that game was the fourth one his team has played that weekend and that his team was "gassed." He hopes the Lady Confederates will be able to regroup this week and have a full lineup for the playoffs Tuesday.
"If we have learned from our mistakes, hopefully, we will be ready in time for the playoffs," Forrester said. "
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.