By JONATHAN WISE /Sports Writer
MEREDIAN — The South Pontotoc Cougars advanced to this week’s Division 1-3A North Half final with an impressive 4-1 road win over Southeast Lauderdale Thursday night.
Led by two goals from senior forward Matt Collums, the Cougars turned in an overall dominant offensive performance, especially in the second half.
“We played Thursday, Friday, two times on Saturday, and in the first round on Tuesday,” said South Pontotoc head coach Horace Kitchens. “Then I practiced the devil out of them yesterday. I didn’t know we were going to come down here tonight until practice was nearly over, so I was a little worried about them being fresh. They came out and played their hearts out though.”
Collums got the Cougars (13-4) on the board with a goal in the 6th minute with an assist from Cole Caples to make it 1-0, South.
The Cougars held serve until halftime before they broke the contest open in the second half.
The second half
An acrobatic netter from Sam Ivy in the opening few minutes put South up 2-0.
Manuel Almazan then slammed in a penalty kick in the 59th minute.
Eduardo Rocha next found Collums for his second goal on the night to cap the Cougars’ scoring with 10:44 remaining in the game and give them a commanding 4-0 lead.
Southeast’s Ryder Leifried scored the Tigers’ lone goal in the 74th minute to spoil a potential shutout for the Cougars.
Coach Kitchens’ say
“The kids never put their heads down and competed all night,” Kitchens said. “I can’t say enough about their goalie. He is a monster and saved them about 7 or 8 goals on absolute bullets. He is an asset to their program.
“We made some mistakes we shouldn’t have, and to be a championship team you need to be flawless.
“My motto has always been to expect the worst. Our defense didn’t expect the worst and didn’t back each other up like they should have.
“When we play a team that starts kickballing, we need to settle down and get in our rhythm and make good passes, but we will get back to work to get better on that before (North Half) next week.
“Overall though, we did a good job of working the ball around the field, taking the ball outside the flag, and crossing the ball.
“I couldn’t be more proud of them.”