The Apalachee High School Lady Wildcats soccer team used a strong defensive performance in its season opener for a 1-1 tie against visiting Jackson County on Friday, Feb. 7.

AHS took a 1-0 lead with 16:45 left in the first half on a goal by Emily Hale and almost made it hold up the rest of the way. The Lady Panthers (1-0-1) were finally able to even the score on a goal with 5:43 remaining.

“Similar to last year, Jackson County is a good team,” said Lady Wildcat coach Paul Thornton. “They are well coached and are very organized. It will help us to see opponents of this caliber in our non-region matches.”

Hale’s goal was the offensive highlight for both teams in the opening half during a cold night at R. Harold Harrison Stadium as temperatures were in the 30s by game time.

Thornton said his team missed some opportunities which could have increased the lead.

“We especially had some chances early in the match,” the coach said. “We missed chances which could have put us far enough in the lead to win.”

Bailey Hope Arnold, one of the AHS seniors this season, tried to extend the lead for the Lady Wildcats 15 minutes into the second half. Bailey took a pass from teammate Hale and raced ahead of the Jackson County defense before a nice save by the Lady Panthers’ keeper prevented the goal.

Hale’s goal came on an uncontested attempt after Jackson County’s goalkeeper Avery Wortel came out to contest the attempt only to slide down. That left Hale alone for the goal.

Hale had just missed on a scoring opportunity four minutes earlier when her attempt sailed to the left of the goal.

Jackson County had limited first half scoring opportunities with its best chance with 28:21 on the clock.

AHS goalkeeper Sarah Currey recorded four saves in the first half and finished the contest with nine.

“It’s still very early in the season,” Thornton said. “We will keep working and preparing for the region schedule.”

The Lady Wildcats had defeated Chestatee High School 6-2 earlier in a preseason scrimmage.

The Lady Panthers also had one match under their belts, defeating Banks County High School 10-0 earlier in the week. Jackson County had a tougher time offensively against AHS, however.

AHS was scheduled to visit Denmark on Tuesday, Feb. 11, and will host Rockdale County High School on Friday, Feb. 14, at 5:30 p.m.

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