Photo/James Pugh

The pass across the grain from captain Kaydon Howard connected with Jason Garica perfectly. Garica, who was waiting atop the box, finished off the pass with a swift kick of the ball and into the back of the net. The Tuesday night ingredients spelled out a recipe for success as the Northeast Jones boys soccer team picked up their first win over county rivals South Jones since 2015, 2-1. 

“We teach our guys to take the ball to the goal line on the wings and cross it across the grain,” said NEJ head coach Matt Reid. “At the PK spot, Jason was on it. From there he hammered it.

“I can’t say enough about it. It has been a couple of the years since we beat those guys (South Jones). 

Last season, after a loss to South Jones in 2016, Northeast Jones tied with the Braves, 3-3. This year they claimed the win. 

“We always, always play them close in hard-fought games,” added Reid. “That’s just the way it will always be.”

The Tigers kept the ball on South Jones’ defensive side most of the first half. Reid said it was unfortunate that his team only came away with just one goal. 

“I thought the possession was great for us in the first half,” said Reid. “We played 80 percent [of the first half] on their defensive side of the field, but we had little to show for it.”

South Jones scored with on a header inside the box from junior Fausto Reyes early. Later in the first half – following a Braves penalty in the box – Garica equalized the score by converting a penalty kick. The sophomore also scored the go-ahead goal in the second half that later game Northeast Jones the win. 

“I thought we got a little sloppy and lazy in the second half,” Reid said. “But otherwise I’m proud of our guys. They’re clicking right now and playing well.”

Just days and weeks out from Region 5-4A play, Reid said Tuesday night’s win is big.

“All this is about trying to find our identity,” Reid said. “We’re a very new team, trying to find our identity heading into division play. This is a big confidence boost for us too.”

Northeast Jones picked up its fifth win of the season and improves to 5-2-1 overall. South Jones falls to 2-4. 

Girls Final: South Jones 2, Northeast Jones 2

While the game finished in a draw, the advantage, and momentum when to Northeast Jones. The Lady Tigers clawed their way back from an early 2-0 deficit Tuesday night to force a 2-2 tie.

Head coach Brooke Zugg said the game was a win for her team in other terms. 

“This was a moral, emotional, spiritual victory for us,” Zugg said. “For the past several weeks, I’ve been harping on our girls about the little things that matter. I know they’re tired of it, but tonight those little things clicked. 

“I saw a team of 11 girls on the field that I haven’t seen [until now].”

Senior Odalys Garica scored both goals for Northeast Jones. Her first was on a penalty kick in the 29th minute. 

“Odalys putting away the PK in the first half not only changed the game for us but may as well change our season,” said Zugg. “The energy that goal created for us will hopefully help us in the games ahead.”

Garica equalized the game (2-2) with her second. It came 16 minutes into the second half. 

For South Jones, the goal was simple – score early in the second half and put the game away. But that didn’t happen.

“At halftime, we said we needed to score early,” said South Jones head girls coach Tony Buckley. “[A quick score for us] would pretty much mean game over [for them], but we didn’t score although we came close. Northeast Jones never gave up, so give them credit too.”

Mary Bradley McCardle and Sumer Boyette scored solo goals for the Lady Braves.

Northeast Jones’ record holds at 2-4-2 on the year, while South Jones remains at 3-1-1.