The teams seemed evenly matched as the Howard Middle School Huskies and Lady Huskies of Macon took the field against the Henderson Middle School Tigers and Lady Tigers. It was the final game of the 2011 soccer season for both teams as they played, April 13, before a crowd of supporters on a pleasant spring evening at the Butts County Parks and Recreation Department's Samuel Johnson Soccer Complex.
The end result of both games showed that the teams were almost too evenly matched as both the girls' and boys' games ended in 1-1 ties. HMS Tigers Coach Josh Berube noted that both Howard's boys and girls teams were league champions in 2010.
In the girls' game, the Lady Tigers found success on the scoreboard first when Shannon Holland, assisted by Carolyn Harkness, was able to kick one straight past the goalie from in front of the goal about eight minutes into the first half.
The Lady Tigers' defense saw plenty of action through the rest of the half, defending against two penalty kicks as well as aggressive play by the Lady Huskies. Cory Lynn Duncum, at goalkeeper for the Lady Tigers, had two crucial stops, and Danielle Basterash and Majesty Porche were key defenders for the Lady Tigers. Duncum was returning to play for the Lady Tigers for the first time after injury in the game on March 4.
After going into half time with a 1-0 lead, Henderson came back ready to score again, but the Howard defenders fought back, with two goalie stops within the first minute of play.
The Lady Tigers had several promising drives and some close shots on the Howard goal, but the Lady Husky defense did its job. The Henderson defense also seemed impenetrable. Taylor Green executed a head block to stop one penalty kick and then used footwork to stop another PK shortly afterward.
One drive by Harkness seemed a sure goal, but it was not. After the ball had traveled from one goal to the other and back, Howard put a shot straight in to tie the game, 1-1, with about six minutes remaining. With good defense by both teams, the game ended in a tie.
"We didn't play our best game of the season unfortunately. There were errors made, but we kept fighting until the end," said Lady Tigers Head Coach Angela Johnson. "I think our 6-1-1 record with only four returning players proves that they did in fact grow in their understanding of the game of soccer. I couldn't be more proud of them."
The Tigers' contest against the Huskies also proved to be primarily a defensive battle for the Henderson boys. Cainan Barnes took on the duties of goalkeeper for the game and had two good stops midway through the first half and two more stops in the final three minutes of the first half. Fred Hardin, Dylan Spraggins, and R.J. Payne were also assets to the Tigers defensively.
Cade Chewning had two drives toward the Howard goal that looked as though they would find the mark but came up empty. With less than a minute left in the first half, a Husky put in a shot from the right side of the goal that gave Howard a 1-0 lead at the break.
The second half began with some opportunities for the Tigers, with a corner kick and one shot that went over Howard's goal. Hardin drove to score, but the ball was stopped by Howard's goalkeeper. Will Bice drove down the field to be thwarted by the Huskies' defenders as the ball traveled back and forth from goal to goal in the second half.
Skylar Hammond made good use of a penalty kick with about 10 minutes remaining in the game to tie the score, 1-1. With about three minutes left to play, Henderson took the ball in for one more possible shot, but the Howard goalkeeper made the block. From that point, it remained a defensive contest, and the game ended in a tie.
"The light came on in the second half, and they did a great job of fighting back to tie it up against a really good team," said Coach Berube. "It was pretty consistent with the theme of the season -- play with pride and never stop fighting. The progress the guys made this year was unbelievable, and I couldn't be more proud of our young men."