THE SCHEDULE got considerably tougher for Jackson County Thursday but the result remained the same for the surging Lady Panther soccer team.
Katie Phillips scored two goals and Gabbi Kastner added another as unfazed Jackson County beat defending subregion champion North Oconee, 3-2.
The huge win helped keep the Lady Panthers first-place in Region 8-AA South. Jackson County (8-1, 4-0) then added a 2-1 win over Oglethorpe County Tuesday to run its winning streak to seven games.
Coach Joe Ridgway said Thursday’s win over North Oconee will rank as a special one.
“We played the type of game that will be remembered here at Jackson for many years,” he said. “We showed so much heart. We were missing one of our starting defenders and two of our starters were just recovering from illness. They played not feeling 100 percent, but gave it all they had. We had enough heart to hold on to the lead.”
All the scoring occurred in the first half.
Phillips, who has 17 goals on the year, accounted for Jackson County’s two first-half scores, but North Oconee answered each time. Kastner scored the go-ahead goal for Jackson County off an assist from Syndey Baird. The teams went scoreless in the second half as Jackson County held on for the win.
“North Oconee is a very strong team and we gave it all we had to hold our lead,” Ridgway said.
Ridgway praised his defenders for their second-half showing.
“Our defenders, Rachel Pasko, Kristen Betz, Kourtney Axelberg and Allison Reilly were solid as rocks the second half and we held them off,” Ridgway said. “North Oconee has a lot of fire power and we were able to weather the storm.”
Goalkeeper Victoria Fontana helped preserve the win with what Ridgway called “unbelievable saves.” Meanwhile, Reilly was able to contain North Oconee’s Georgia Southern signee.
“She did an outstanding job keeping her from doing us much damage,” Ridgway said.
In the Tuesday win against Oglethorpe County, Maddie Newton scored the deciding goal off a header from a cross by Sydney Baird in the second half.
“It was one of the most beautiful goals we’ve scored all year,” Ridgeway said.
Phillips scored the team’s first goal.
Fontana again stepped up on the other end with “some great saves again” at goalkeeper.
“It was a good team effort against a solid team,” Ridgway said.