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Pichardo helps Starkville soccer team atone for loss

 

Danny P Smith

 

STARKVILLE -- Starkville High School''s Alvaro Pichardo couldn''t wait to get back onto the soccer field after losing to Tupelo High last week. 

 

Starkville''s 3-1 loss to the Golden Wave in a Class 6A, Division 2 match left a bad taste in Pichardo''s mouth. 

 

On Friday night, Pichardo took out his frustration on Columbus High School''s boys soccer team. 

 

Pichardo scored the first and the last goal for the Yellow Jackets and had three total in a 7-1 victory. 

 

"I just wanted to bounce back from that loss to Tupelo," Pichardo said. "We had a great game and my teammates helped me. We were going for every ball and we didn''t do that against Tupelo. 

 

"It''s good that after our only loss that we come back and blow them out like this. It makes us feel so much better." 

 

After Pichardo scored at the 30-minute mark of the first half, Parker Hoyt scored the first of his two goals with 22 minutes remaining and Kase Kingery closed out the opening half with a fastbreak score with 14:30 left. 

 

Starkville (6-1-1, 1-1 division) opened the second half by scoring two goals in a minute. Daniel Fumo had the first with 38 minutes remaining in the match and then Pichardo scored his second goal of the match at the 39-minute mark. 

 

The Falcons (5-6, 0-2) got a score at the 25-minute mark of the second half as Sebastian Vazquez hit a shot that snuck just inside the left bar of the goal. 

 

The Yellow Jackets closed the match with another goal each from Hoyt and Pichardo. 

 

Columbus coach Javier Esquivel, who used to coach in Starkville, said it was just a matter of the Falcons running up against a hot group of Yellow Jackets. 

 

"Soccer is like that," Esquivel said. "Somebody has to win and unfortunately, the other team played well (Friday night). We''re going to get them at home next Thursday (rescheduled from Friday)." 

 

Starkville coach Brian Bennett knew that it wasn''t wise to underestimate the Falcons and believed his team was "rusty" after not playing since Tuesday. He was glad to see that Hoyt and Pichardo were able to knock off that rust. 

 

If the Yellow Jackets can pull off another split with the Golden Wave and Falcons next week, it would put them in the playoffs. 

 

Bennett doesn''t want to just split, but would like to sweep and host the first round of the Class 6A playoffs. 

 

"The North is about as wide open as it''s been," Bennett said. "If you can get in this year, anything can happen, but we''d like to beat Tupelo and host the first round." 

 

n Starkville 7, Columbus 0 (G): Starkville High''s Morgan Miller said it was all about focusing on offense. 

 

That''s what enabled the Lady Yellow Jackets to take advantage of the opportunities they had to score in the second half against Columbus High. 

 

After holding a slim 1-0 lead at halftime, Starkville exploded with six second-half goals to defeat the Lady Falcons. 

 

The Lady Yellow Jackets had 15 shots on goal in the first half, but only one score by Baily Clark to show for it. 

 

Miller started something positive for Starkville (7-3, 1-1) with her goal at the 39th minute of the second half. The Lady Yellow Jackets went on to get three goals in the first 10 minutes of the half. 

 

Starkville girl''s coach Anna Albritton tried to give her squad encouragement at halftime and Miller was one of the players who responded with a pair of goals. 

 

"We just focused on our offense and we said a lot of positive words (at halftime)," Miller said. "We got everyone pumped up and going. We just encouraged everybody. It was just a matter of everyone showing up, making sure they were in the right spot and completing the passes." 

 

Following Miller''s goal to start the second half, Clark got her second goal of the match on an assist by Sarah Banes to put the Lady Yellow Jackets up 3-0. Banes had fallen down on the play, but got up in time to make the pass to Clark. 

 

"They needed that confidence that they can make it and settled down a little bit," Albritton said about the second-half performance. "They started coming and looking for each other a little bit better. 

 

Columbus assistant girls coach Matt Snow said Starkville''s quick start in the second half "deflated" the Lady Falcons (0-2 division). 

 

"It took the wind out of our sails and it was tough for us to get back in it," Snow said. 

 

The other goals in the second half for Starkville were by Banes, Mariah Duck and Terria Tillman. 

 

Albritton was happy to see her squad take advantage of the second-half opportunities. 

 

"We''ve had that trouble (scoring) all year," Albritton said. "We have been snakebit when it comes to goals. We''ve out-shot a lot of our opponents. Tonight, it happened for us and hopefully we can carry that over into next week." 

 

It will be a week of rematches as the Lady Yellow Jackets try to avenge its loss to Tupelo at home Tuesday, then travel to Columbus Thursday. 

 

"We have a good team," Albritton said. "As long as you keep it simple, there''s a lot of talent there. They have to learn to work together. They worked beautiful (Friday) together offensively and defensively." 

 

 

 

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