After capping another perfect season in region play, the Jackson County girls’ soccer team has a challenging slate of five non-region opponents ahead of it to prep for the state tournament.
The 8-AAA champion Panthers (11-2), who beat rival East Jackson 6-0 Thursday in their region finale, will face Collins Hill (April 8), Lumpkin County (April 10), North Hall (April 12), Buford (April 16) and Mountain View (April 18) to close the regular season.
“We scheduled these teams for the express purpose to prepare us for the playoffs,” said Jackson County coach Matt Maier, whose team advanced to the Class AAA Elite Eight last year. “This stretch will tell us what we do well and what we need to work on.”
Collins Hill and Mountain View are both Class AAAAAAA schools, Lumpkin County is ranked No. 7 in Class AAA and Buford is ranked No. 4 in Class AAAAA.
Jackson County recently captured its third-consecutive region title with a 1-0 win over Jefferson in PKs (6-5) on March 22. It then followed up that victory with two more wins, beating non-region opponent Johnson 5-0 on March 26 before its 6-0 win Thursday over East Jackson, which extended the program’s region winning streak to 26 games.
Serenity Castillo paced the Panthers with three goals against East Jackson, while Lindsey Fowler, Melissa Ventura and Kennedy Harris each added one goal.
Jackson County took control of the game early with two goals in the first 10 minutes after having scored two goals in the first three minutes in the win over Johnson.
“It was good to pick up another win against a county rival,” Maier said. “I think the girls have done a good job keeping their focus these past two games. After clinching a third region title, you would expect a letdown, but the girls have come out firing early in both games … We are just trying to enjoy the moment as streaks like this don't happen very often. Now, we have to adjust our focus and use these last five games to ready ourselves for the playoffs.”
JCCHS BOYS FALL TO EAST JACKSON
The Jackson County boys’ soccer team fell to 4-9 on the year with a 2-0 loss to East Jackson Thursday. The rivalry game included eight yellow cards and two red cards between the two teams. Panther goal keeper Parker Garrison had seven saves in the loss. Jackson County took 13 shots, eight of which were on frame. With the loss, the Panthers finished regio play at 2-4. Jackson County will resume its schedule April 8 at home against Class AAAAAAA Collins Hill.