BY JAMES BEASLEY
The New England Patriots are not the only perfect football team in the land. Thanks to Richard Henley’s goal in the 14th minute of overtime, Copiah Academy’s “futbol” team edged Laurel Christian 2-1 in a thriller played at Gallman last Friday, improving their overall record to 9-0.
Michael Todd Moran’s goal in the 17th minute of the first half gave Laurel Christian a 1-0 lead. With 4_ minutes left in the opening period, Kimber Dear drilled a shot that ricocheted off a Laurel Christian defender into the net to tie the score 1-1 at halftime.
Both teams missed scoring opportunities in the second half. CA goalkeeper Hunter Greer recorded 16 saves in the contest, including a spectacular diving save midway through the second half.
The game remained tied after regulation and through the first 10-minute overtime. Fortunately for Copiah fans, Richard Henley, who had been out all week due to a foot injury, scored what proved to be the deciding goal on a direct kick from well outside the 18 in the 4th minute of the second extra period.
“This is what happens when #1 and #2 meet,” said Copiah second-year head coach Jamie Madison. “This (Laurel Christian) is the team we want to send to the other bracket. Now we’re the only team in our division with no losses. We’re in the driver’s seat.”
Earlier in the week, CA rallied to edge the Hillcrest Christian Cougars 2-1 in Jackson. Hillcrest scored first, taking a 1-0 lead five minutes into the game.
“For a time, I began to worry that the guys just didn’t believe we could win without Richie,” said Madison. The Cougars continued to hold the lead until Scotty Reese scored the tying goal in the 69th minute. Four minutes later, the Hillcrest goalie was taken out after being injured.
The Colonels took advantage of his absence as Reese scored what proved to be the winning goal in the 78th minute. “It seems we play to the level of our competition,” said Madison, “and a touch more. We probably should have had 5 or 6 more goals, but missing Richie just seemed to wear on our guys’ morale.”
On Wednesday, CA hosted Veritas and emerged with a 4-2 win in the mud and cold. Copiah jumped out front 1-0 just 2 minutes into the game on a crossing shot by Nathan Madison, son of the Colonel coach.
The Cougars scored two unanswered goals before Lee Brown tied the scored 2-2 with a goal in the 22nd minute. Just before halftime, CA’s Zach Stafford punched in a deflection to give his team a 3-2 halftime lead. Brown scored an insurance goal midway through the second half to give the Colonels a 4-2 lead that they maintained the rest of the way.
Copiah, 9-0 overall and 6-0 in conference play, traveled to Laurel Christian on Monday this week and is scheduled to host Brookhaven Academy on Wednesday afternoon, Trinity Episcopal on Thursday afternoon, and Parklane Academy on Saturday.