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THURSDAY'S PREP ROUNDUP: Americus boys soccer can’t extend historic season; TAE baseball drops state opener

Americus-Sumter sophomore Dylan Morgan dribbles the ball on the Mary Persons defense during Thursday’s opener of the state playoffs. Morgan scored the Panthers’ only goal in a 4-1 loss. (Scott Phillips/Americus Times-Recorder)

Americus-Sumter sophomore Dylan Morgan dribbles the ball on the Mary Persons defense during Thursday’s opener of the state playoffs. Morgan scored the Panthers’ only goal in a 4-1 loss. (Scott Phillips/Americus Times-Recorder)

Terrell Academy baseball loses Game 1 of state playoff series

ST. SIMONS ISLAND — The Terrell Academy baseball team started the state playoffs a day earlier than the rest of Georgia on Thursday and found itself in a 1-0 hole after dropping Game 1 to Frederica Academy, 7-0.

TAE (13-9), the No. 3 seed, fell behind early when starter Kyle Stratton was rough up and never recovered. Stratton was pulled after 3 2/3 innings as he gave up seven hits and struck out three. The Eagles only managed three hits, and Garrett Hutchinson had two of them.

Game 2 is today at 1:30 p.m., immediately followed by Game 3, if necessary.

AMERICUS — Edson Rodriguez, the lone senior on a Region 1-AAA champion Americus-Sumter boys soccer team, knows about perspective.

Sure, Rodriguez and the Panthers were down and out after they failed to get out of the first round of the GHSA Class AAA state soccer playoffs Thursday — falling to No. 4 seed Mary Persons, 4-1, at home — but Rodriguez also knew that even a first-round upset couldn’t take away that first region title in school history.

“You know, not everything is about winning and losing,” Rodriguez said following the end to the school’s best year ever. “We accomplished a lot this season.”

Mary Persons, which came from a tough Region 2-AAA, fought off Americus’ only real scoring threat in the first half when Ricardo Rodriguez’s free kick deflected off the Bulldogs’ goalie and Dylan Morgan just missed wide right on a rebound attempt in the 23rd minute.

From there, it was all down hill for the Panthers, who finished the season 12-5.

“We came out real tight in the first half and couldn’t get anything going,” Americus-Sumter head coach Coleman Price said.

Mary Persons (12-6-1) used a five-minute stretch late in the first half to take control.

Kenny Miller scored the game’s first goal in the 25th minute, then two minutes later Candler Proffit found net on a breakaway goal with an assist from Taylor Dell to put the Bulldogs ahead, 2-0.

Dell’s header pass to Jacob Smith over the arms of Americus goal keeper Qnealus Bell, who charged out to defend, left the net unattended for Smith to score in the 30th minute for a 3-0 Mary Persons lead.

“We’ve been on their end,” said Bulldogs coach Keith Groepner, whose team lost in the first round the last two seasons. “We’ve been punched in the mouth. It’s an eerie feeling. They came out in the second half and fought, though. They played every ball hard.”

Americus-Sumter played Mary Persons to a 1-1 draw in the second half with a late goal from Morgan, the Panthers’ sophomore who drove in a header that accounted for just the sixth shot on goal all night for Americus.

“We did (overlook Mary Persons) a little bit,” Rodriguez said of the first-round matchup. “We actually thought we were unbeatable, but unfortunately we’re not.”

Mary Person took a 4-0 lead just one minute into the second half on Josh Hampton’s goal and it was time to start thinking about 2013 for the Panthers, a season in which they’ll return everyone, including leading goal-scorer Edin Ancelmo, other than their one senior.

“It’s awesome,” Rodriguez said of the program’s rise in just one season “Most of the guys on the team are sophomores so I think they’ll be pretty good next year.”

Mary Persons moves on to face the Chestatee-Allatoona winner on the road, where the Bulldogs will try to pull another upset.

“It’s a lot easier coming in as the four seed,” said Groepner, whose team is in a region with two Top 10 ranked soccer programs. “We had high expectations, though. We’re a pretty good four seed.”

The ride in 2012 ended for a group of Americus-Sumter players that came from all different backgrounds but found a way to make history as one.

“We didn’t really have any superstars,” Price said. “We had a whole team that came out and played hard. We’ll get ready for next season and defend the region championship.”