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Prep soccer: Chestatee, Lumpkin County ready for battle

No. 11 War Eagles to play host to unbeaten Indians tonight

POSTED: March 14, 2008 5:01 a.m.
Robin Michener Nathan/The Times

Jimmy Hatch heads the ball during Chestatee High soccer practice Monday afternoon, The 11th-ranked War Eagles will play host to unbeaten Lumpkin County at 7:30 tonight.

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Using what Chestatee boys soccer coach Michael Herrin refers to as, "blue collar soccer," the Lumpkin County boys soccer team has outscored its opponents 26-4 in four games this season.

Whether or not math is your forte, it isn’t hard to figure out that Lumpkin County is averaging a little over six goals per game while giving up only one.

"They are good at putting the ball in the net" Herrin said.

"They are fast and physical, they like to pressure and come at you."

The Class AAA No. 11 War Eagles (3-1) are hoping to knock Lumpkin County’s (4-0) goal-per-game average down a point or two when they faceoff at 7:30 tonight at Chesatee High.

An integral part of ensuring that happens will be Chestatee senior goalkeeper Tyler Esson.

"Tyler (Esson) always comes up big in big games for us," Herrin said.

Herrin also is counting on a strong defensive performances by junior David Medina and senior Evan Maag.

"Their leadership is going to be huge for us (tonight)," Herrin said.

Chestatee’s defense, anchored by Esson, has given up five total goals in four games this season.

Where the opponent’s defense is concerced, the Indians 26 goals in four games is impressive, the fact that they are only allowing one goal, on average, is almost.

Unless, of course, you were around Lumpkin County’s 2007 squad, which not only made it to the Class AAA state playoffs while amassing a 12-3 record but did it giving up a miserly 1.5 goals per game.

"Their defense is and has been tall and fast," Herrin said. "They’ve got big kids and they don’t make many mistakes.

"They are big and are willing to give a hit and take a hit," Herrin said.

"That’s why I say they’re blue collar."

The 2007 War Eagles were led offensively by senior forward Brandon Byers who scored 30 goals on the season and was named Region 7-AAA Player of the Year.

That would all be fine and good if Byers had been a junior. Instead, 2008 War Eagles are without the player who accounted for approximately 60 percent of their goals scored last year.

"Our forwards are new and new to the starting lineup," Herrin said. "If we have one weakness it’s that we are young."

This year’s team, which has scored eight goals in four games, faces its biggest challenge tonight in trying to put the ball in the net against a stingy Indians defense.

Starting forwards for tonight’s game will be Kevin Stradley and Alejandro Gonzalez.

"They realize they have big shoes to fill, but they have also been anxious to get in the spotlight and to show what they are made of."

Chestatee, as a team, is looking forward to showing what it is made of tonight against an undefeated Lumpkin County squad.

"We feel the Indians have weaknesses we can exploit," Herrin said.

"But, it’s going to take everyone to win."



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