Southside knocks off defending state champs in first round

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Photo: Southside High’s Trek Gardner (15) pushes the ball upfield as John Carroll Catholic’s Gabriel Cruz pursues during the Panthers’ 3-1 victory in the first round of the Class 5A state soccer playoffs on Tuesday, April 30 at Barney Hood Stadium. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)

By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor

The Southside High boys soccer team cleared a major postseason hurdle on Tuesday, April 30.
Facing defending state champion John Carroll Catholic in the first round of the Class 5A state playoffs, the Panthers (23-1-1) produced a 3-1 victory at Barney Hood Stadium.
“I was extremely proud of how each one of our young men played tonight,” said Southside head coach Randy Vice. “I don’t think that any of our players left anything on the field. I basically told our guys before we got started that if we played our best and [John Carroll] played their best, I was confident.”
The Panthers opened the scoring midway through the first half on a goal by Camren Thompson with an assist from Trek Gardner. With 10:48 left in the half, Cooper Yancey found the back of the net off an assist from Thompson.
Gardner cleaned up a rebound early in the second half to provide the hosts with a 3-0 advantage. The Cavaliers (15-9-1) scored with approximately 10 minutes left in the game off a corner kick, but the Panthers held up the rest of the way to secure the win.
“This week in practice all we worked on was defending corner kicks and long throw-ins, which John Carroll is very good at,” said Vice. “I thought we were fairly successful in doing that during the game.”
Hayes Cosby had seven saves in goal.
“One of Hayes’ saves was absolutely amazing at point blank range,” said Vice. “I was actually in the process of marking [the shot attempt] as a goal when Hayes knocked the ball out before it got over the line.”
Vice pointed to the defensive play of Oezeiph Toumiba, Siguard Eik, William Martin and Caleb Ogle as a key factor in the win.
“I thought that everyone played well, but those four guys really stepped up. We’re a junior-heavy team, but our defense is anchored by experience with three out of those guys being seniors. Those guys get a little overlooked because there aren’t a whole lot of stats for them, but they do a super job of clearing and redistributing the ball.”
The Panthers will host Area 6 rival Douglas in the second round on Friday, May 3 at 7:30 p.m. Southside swept Douglas during the regular season by scores of 4-2 and 4-3.

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