Following two overtime periods and a series of penalty kicks, Taylor Murphy made a sudden-death save that allowed Edgar Aguirre to send a game-winning penalty kick past Morgan County’s goalkeeper and clinched a 2-1 win for the Eagles last week.
From the break, the Eagles were forced to counter-attack for most of the first half until the offense was able to push forward around the 20-minute mark. Aguirre pushed a goal past the Morgan County keeper to put the score at 1-0, where it remained until halftime.
The Bulldogs came out of the locker room surging and quickly pushed East Jackson back into its own territory. After several attempts on the goal, the Bulldogs kicked the equalizer past Murphy on a free kick to tie things up at 1-1.
Both the Eagles and Bulldogs took several shots on each other’s goals, but both keepers kept the opposing offenses in check as time expired in regulation.
East Jackson was able to generate most of the pressure in the following two overtime periods, but failed to convert a goal as the game was forced into a penalty kick period.
Murphy saved one PK, while Hart County converted four. The Eagles also converted four PKs as the game was forced into a sudden-death period in which the next PK converted would earn the win.
Each team selected a player that had not yet attempted a penalty kick and met at midfield for a coin flip to determine kicking order.
Morgan County won the coin flip and elected to kick first. Murphy, who was filling in for Adam Minnick (vacation), saved the Morgan County players’ attempt.
Aguirre sent the Eagles’ sudden death PK through as the East Jackson bench erupted in celebration.
“It was a huge win,” said Eagle head coach Chris Cooley. “It really takes some pressure off of us now that we will most likely be in the playoffs.”
At 4-2 in Region 8-AAA play, the Eagles are practically locked into the post season. The Eagles could finish as high as the No. 2 seed, but Cooley feels the most likely scenario is that North Oconee and Oconee County (both undefeated) finish as the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds.
If that scenario plays out, then East Jackson will play rival Jackson County to determine which team will be the No. 3 seed from Region 8-AAA.
Cooley noted that “Jackson County is looking strong” and says he looks forward to a good matchup between the rival schools on April 18.
In the meantime, the Eagles will get some time to rest and heal from minor injuries before returning to action on April 8, when they host Jefferson.
“(The Morgan County) win really allowed our guys to go into spring break and get some rest and relax,” said Cooley. “They can enjoy their break and we will hit it hard when they get back.”