Deerfield’s James La Russa (2) puts a foot on the ball, then fires a goal into the back of the net during the first half of Thursday’s rivalry showdown with Derek Allen and Sherwood. The Eagles came in unbeaten, but the Knights handed them their first loss to seize control of the Region 3-AAA race. (email@example.com)
ALBANY — Sherwood Christian had the unbeaten record. Deerfield-Windsor had the experience and leadership of 10 seniors.
The Knights still have those tested upperclassmen, but the Eagles’ undefeated mark is no more after Deerfield handed Sherwood its first loss of the season, 4-1, on Thursday in Region 3-AAA play.
The Knights jumped out to an early 3-0 lead and were able to bottle up Sherwood’s leading goal-scorer, T.J. Clay, for the most part and took control of the region race.
“We couldn’t have gotten off to a better start,” DWS head coach Aly Joslin said. “I don’t think there was any doubt we were going to win that game. I knew we had the quality to go out there and win the game.”
When Knights senior James La Russa netted the team’s third goal of the first half with 38 seconds left before the break, it was all but over with the way Deerfield’s defense and senior goalkeeper Don Scozzari were playing.
Scozzari was lights out in net, making several diving saves in the first half to keep Sherwood (11-1-1, 2-1 Region 3-AAA) off the board until it was too late.
“They dealt a little better with our speed than most teams,” Eagles head coach Jeremy Davis said. “They win that game because of what their keeper did — brilliant, incredible first half.”
Joslin agreed, adding more praise for Scozzari’s showing.
“That’s the best performance he’s had,” the coach said.
Seniors Remington Barnes and Jonathan Jones added first-half goals, and Trey Puckett finished things off in the final minute with a goal. Clay, who has scored 26 times already this season, cut the lead to 3-1 with 14:29 to play after finally breaking free and finishing at the net.
The Knights (8-2, 3-0 Region 3-AAA) solved Sherwood’s defense early and the added motivation of playing a region rival with an unbeaten record was all they needed, along with some social media back-and-forth trash talk leading up to the game.
“We were pretty pumped going into it that we were going to play as hard as we could,” La Russa said. “They had a really tight defense, but coach talked to us and we learned how to break it up.”
For Sherwood, the undefeated run is over, but Davis was proud of the effort from the Eagles’ third-year soccer program that has a chemistry he likes, although he was warned about the potential for underlying issues before moving south from the Atlanta area to coach at Sherwood.
None of that materialized and Davis couldn’t be happier with the makeup of his team.
“Before I came to Albany I was told, “You’ve got to be careful down there. They’ve got a big racial issue,’ ” Davis recalls. “You look at this team — there’s eight black kids, eight white kids. They fight for each other. They love each other. They’re the model for what this city needs to look for, the way that they’ve come together.”
SCA next faces Calvary Christian on the road Saturday, while DWS goes to Tattnall Square on Monday.
g Deerfield-Windsor girls 3, Sherwood 1: The Lady Eagles jumped on the board in the first five minutes on Paige Barker’s goal, but Deerfield battled back to stay unbeaten in region play.
Casey Kincheloe’s left-footed blast tied the match at 1-1 with 2:02 left in the first half and Mackenzie Davis scored on a penalty kick with 28:04 to play to rally for the Lady Knights’ ninth win.
“I don’t think (the early deficit) fazed them,” Joslin said. “We know we have the strength and belief to come back. The girls are tired (after three games this week), but this is a much improved group.”
DWS (9-1-1, 5-0 Region 3-AAA) added a late goal from Davis, her second of the night, to pull away. The Lady Knights next play at Tattnall Square on Monday.
Sherwood Christian’s girls (10-4, 2-2 Region 3-AAA) will next play at Calvary Christian on Saturday.
Westover, Baconton, Westwood baseball teams all win Thursday
ALBANY — Just when you thought facing Westover’s Robert Daniel, who has led Georgia high school pitchers in strikeouts for the last two years, was tough, now teams are starting to see double.
That’s a double dose of Daniel.
Andy Daniel, another lefty and Robert’s younger brother, started his first varsity game Thursday and the freshman was almost unhittable in a 16-1, four-inning win against Dougherty. He pitched three innings, striking out seven of nine, and giving up just one hit without allowing an earned run to get his first win at Westover.
Robert Daniel pitched the fourth and final inning of the mercy-rule game and struck out all three batters he faced.
“That freshman is going to be a beast,’’ said Westover coach Kevin Fretwell, who said he got a kick out of watching the two Daniel pitchers. “He might never throw as hard as his brother, but he has one of the nastiest curveballs anyone’s going to see. It locks your knees up.’’
Josh Black doubled, tripled and drove in five runs, and T.J. Cromer had a double and drove in three runs to lead Westover at the plate. The Patriots are 2-2 in Region 1-AAA, and 4-5 overall. They will next play at first-place Crisp County at 6 p.m. Monday.
BACONTON 16, CALHOUN 8: The Blazers improved to 9-4 overall after Thursday’s win, thanks to starting pitcher William Sullivan, who came on in relief and improved to 6-0 after allowing just two hits in four innings and striking out six.
Zack Jones led the way at the plate, going 4-for-5 with his second HR of the season, as well as a double and four RBI. Brock Pinson had three hits and Sullivan and Tony Holland each added two.
Baconton will play again today at Mitchell County.
WESTWOOD 3, TERRELL ACADEMY 2: Douglas Nobles earned the win, going five innings, while Caleb Morrell pitched the last two as the duo gave up nine hits and also struck out nine.
Chason Worsham was 3-for-3 with a double for Westwood, including the game-winner. Mitch Good added two hits for the Wildcats, while Kyle Stratton led Terrell with two hits.
Westwood, which will next play Fullington today at home, improved to 7-1.
Hanson leads SCA golf to W
ALBANY — Golfer Tyler Hanson tied for low medalist with a 73 on Thursday as Sherwood beat Westfield, 322-359.
Walt Matthews followed with an 82, while Tyler George had an 83 and Lakese Brown added an 84.