FOLLOWING a 4-8 campaign last year, second-year Jefferson coach Sean Malone feels he has a much more complete lineup at his disposal this year.
Not coincidently, the Dragons are off to a 4-1 start with a 4-0 record in region play.
“We’re just really solid all over the field this year, where last year we were missing some key spots,” Malone said.
Jefferson looked solid again this past Friday night, rolling to a 4-1 region win over Social Circle in a rare game in Memorial Stadium. Dakota Thompson highlighted the victory with a three-goal performance.
“It was just a phenomenal night by him,” Malone said. “He’s impressed all season. That’s why we’ve got him up at striker. He continues to keep putting them in the back of the goal.”
Thompson scored his first goal in the second minute of the contest, and padded Jefferson’s lead late, scoring in the 59th minute and again in the 73rd minute as the Dragons moved to 3-1 overall and 3-0 in Region 8-AA play.
Richard Mendoza had a big goal as well. With the game knotted at one in the second half, Mendoza put a penalty kick into the back of the net in the 47th minute to break the tie and give Jefferson momentum.
“It did (give us momentum),” Malone said. “We were really tight in the first half. We had a hard time loosening up. This team (Social Circle) plays really physical and we had a hard time dealing with that. Once we got that out of our system and started concentrating on soccer, we played a really good game.”
Jefferson followed-up the Friday victory with a 5-3 win Tuesday over Riverside. Mendoza scored two goals, while Thompson, Doug Giles and Nicholas Parker each scored goals. Parker’s came off a header from a corner kick.
Through the first part of the season, Malone pointed to the play of players like Thompson, Mendoza and Diego Tello.
He also praised the performance of his defense, pointing to a number of “great defenders” like Brody Frazier, Rodney Cain, Angel Cazares, John Wheeler and Charis Warnock.
“I don’t even know which ones to start,” he said, noting the team’s depth.
And at goal keeper, Robert Morsut “has been phenomenal for us this year,” according to Malone.
The coach said he likes the position in which the team has put itself at the middle of the season.
“We’re progressing,” Malone said. “We’re where we want to be at this point. Of course, we want to keep moving forward and keep getting better each game, and we seem to be doing that.”
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