The Raider soccer team drew plenty of praise from coach Trevor Mangan Monday night as Madison County returned to the .500 mark.
The Raiders (2-2) rolled to a 4-2 victory over Franklin County behind superlative efforts on offense and defense.
“A lot of players had breakout games for us, stepping up when we needed them most,” Mangan said.
Madison County plays new region foe Apalachee Friday and fifth-ranked Habersham Central Tuesday.
Ben Ortman scored twice against Franklin County, and Detrick Yamasato and Ian Webster each added goals as Madison County earned its second win of the year.
The Raiders outscored the Lions 3-1 in the second half.
“I challenged the team to play with intensity in the second half, and they really responded,” Mangan said.
Defensively, Spencer Baird played his best game at sweeper, “doing an excellent job providing depth and support for our backs,” Mangan said.
The coach also noted the efforts of Patrick Stewart and Ben Larkins. Stewart did a “phenomenal job” of man-marking Franklin County’s best forward, while Larkins enjoyed a stand-out night at marking back, “doing an excellent job of staying at home and being physical,” Mangan said.
Goalkeeper Jason Bales also had “an outstanding game,” with Mangan pointing to Bales’ numerous saves.
Offensively, Ortman headed-in a corner kick in the first half and scored again in the second half for his fifth goal of the year.
Detrick Yamasato “did some great individual work,” according to Mangan, to put in a cross to Ian Webster, who slotted home his third goal of the year.
Yamasato then scored the final goal — and his third of the year — by beating the goalkeeper from about 25 yards.
“I was really proud of the team’s effort in the second half,” Mangan said. “It was the best half we’d put together as a team this season.”
Madison County lost 4-0 to Heritage three days earlier, with Mangan accepting some of the blame for that setback.
“I didn’t switch our formation early enough to handle some of Heritage’s tactics, and put several of my players in a difficult situation defensively,” he said.
Madison County fared better in the second half, though it failed to score.
“I thought we played very well, making a lot of good combination play through the midfield,” Mangan said. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to finish several chances. I was encouraged by our second-half effort;, it showed a lot of promise for the season.”