TWO days after losing a hard-fought intra-county clash, the Jackson County girls’ soccer team collected an important in-county win.
The Lady Panthers (11-3, 5-1) — who lost to Jefferson 2-0 Tuesday — beat rival East Jackson, 2-1, on the road Thursday to clinch the no. 2 seed out of the subregion in the April 8-AA tournament. Click here for photos.
“It’s a tough game,” Jackson County coach Joe Ridgway said. “I think we’re coming to the point where every school in Jackson County, it’s going to be a battle because our quality of play is getting so much better overall in the county. There’s not much difference between the teams.”
With the contest tied 1-1, freshman Brianna Manculich broke the tie with a second-half score in the 48th minute.
“She’s been in that position to score for a while,” Ridgway said. “We finally got her a ball and she did what she’s supposed to do and she put it in the net.”
Sophomore Katie Phillips provided the first goal, scoring in the first half. East Jackson’s lone score came from Taylin Cozzens.
Ridgway said this was very much a team win.
“We had good, strong midfield play,” Ridgway said. “Sydney Baird did a really good job in the middle distributing the ball. It was really an overall team effort. Our defenders stepped up, our back four. You could praise everybody. Rachel Pasko anchored our defense really well.”
The win sets up a matchup with 8-AA North no. 3 seed Fannin County in the first round of the region tournament in mid-April.
“It’s going to be a battle,” Ridgway said. “If we win that game, then we’re in the state playoffs … We’re going to take a little break and re-charge. We’re beat up. We’ve got a lot of people playing hurt, so I’m proud of the effort.”
Jackson County closes the regular season April 10 against Athens Academy.