Heritage Academy sophomore Jonathan Swartz scored three goals Monday in the boys soccer team’s 8-0 victory against Bayou Academy in the first round of the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Division III tournament. Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff Buy this photo.
February 20, 2018 11:35:15 AM
Wade Lawrie is more accomplished that most goalkeepers.
At 6-foot-3, Lawrie has the length and the athleticism to command his goal box. As a senior, he also has the experience from playing soccer across the United States and in two locations in England.
In all of that time, Lawrie never scored a goal with his left foot.
Lawrie added that accomplishment to his resume Monday night when he converted a rebound in the second half as part of the Heritage Academy boys soccer team's 8-0 victory against Bayou Academy in the first round of the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) Division III tournament.
"It feels like the best thing ever," Lawrie said when asked what it feels like for a goalkeeper to score a goal. "It is great when you have a lot of saves and you feel like you're actually doing something for the team. Our defense was top notch today, but it really feels like something when you're up in the forward position and you feel like you're doing something."
Jonathan Swartz and Lex Rogers had three goals and Todd Sharp added another to set Heritage Academy up for a match against Starkville Academy at 5 p.m. Thursday. The winner will play host to the Division III title game at a time to be determined Saturday.
Heritage Academy beat Starkville Academy 3-2 twice in the regular season.
Lawrie, who primarily kicks with his right foot, scored his goal on a rebound off a save by the goalkeeper. Even though Lawrie hasn't scored many goals in his career, he said he knows the feeling when he strikes a ball well or places it well to beat the goalkeeper.
Swartz opened the scoring with a header off a throw-in from Rogers in the sixth minute. He walked back to the center circle holding his head. After the match, he said the goal was the first he has scored by using his head.
"It kind of hurt," Swartz said. "I am not used to heading it because I am kind of short. I opened my eyes and it was in the goal."
Swartz added two more in the first half. The first came off a lead pass from Sharp that had just the right touch. The timing of the ball was even more impressive because it came on a wet field and gave Swartz a chance to control it before a wet patch on top of the goal box. Swartz beat the defenders and the goalkeeper to the ball and put just enough touch on the ball for it to roll over the goal line.
Noel Fisher assisted on Swartz's third goal with another well-placed chip on the right side of the field. Swartz showed deft touch to finish the pass.
Swartz said his father, Mark, played soccer, so he started playing when he was 4 years old. He said he often was the most skilled player on his teams, so he was called on to lead the offense. As a result, Swartz said he has developed a "nose" for the goal.
"To win, I had to do what I had to do," said Swartz, who started playing at the Columbus Air Force Base and has always played up top.
The Patriots have excelled with only four upperclassmen on their 17-player roster. Lawrie, who also played on the offensive line for the school's football team, is the only senior. Lex Rogers, Jackson DiCicco, and Peyton Allen are the juniors.
Lawrie's goal didn't earn him a full half of work in the attacking half of his field. Shortly after he scored, Lawrie replaced Sharp and was back in his usual place in the goal box. He didn't mind, though, because he added another accomplishment to a resume that started when he was 4 years old in Florida. From there, he moved with his family and his father, who is in the Air Force, to Oklahoma, England, Kansas, Colorado, and Texas. He has been in Mississippi for the last year-and-a-half.
Lawrie has played goalkeeper in all of his previous stops. He said he recalls scoring one of his first goals when he was in Kansas. His team was up 9-0 at the time and he converted a header. On this day, Lawrie said he was motivated to get a goal in a playoff match.
"You don't get many opportunities to play forward as a keeper," Lawrie said. "Whenever you're on the field, you always want to give 100 percent for your school, your team, your coach -- for everyone. You always want to give them the best shot you can."
Heritage Academy coach Joe Asadi said this season's team has come together better than previous teams. He praised the older players for their efforts in helping the younger players feel like a part of the team. As a result, he said the Patriots have been playing with and for each other throughout the season.
"I have always said the junior and senior class have got to be the big brothers for the seventh- and eighth-graders (and other younger players)," Asadi said. "The coach can scream on the sidelines, but you aways deal with someone your age easier. Sometimes the coach is not your best friend, especially if he doesn't play you very much. They are more united. They hustle together."
n In the other first round game in Division III, Brody Pierce had three goals Monday to lead Starkville Academy o a 5-1 victory against Indianola Academy.
Bates Bennett and Garrett Smith also had goals for the Volunteers.
n Jackson Academy 18, Heritage Academy 1: At Jackson, the Heritage Academy baseball team slipped to 1-1 with its loss to Jackson Academy on Monday.
Banks Hyde started and went three innings for Heritage Academy, which will play at 4 p.m. today against Pickens Academy in Carrollton, Alabama.
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @cdispatch.com
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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