Approximately two and a half weeks ago, the Somerset Briar Jumpers notched a 5-2 win over Southwestern in the opening round of the Hyundai Challenge/PC Cup Soccer Tournament at Pulaski County High School.

In that win, Somerset scored two late goals in the first half to break a 1-1 tie, going on to notch the victory over the Warriors.

Last night, history looked as if it might repeat itself, as Somerset drew first blood in this one with just :11 left on the clock in the first half, when Gabe Altman found the nets for a 1-0 Jumper lead playing on Southwestern’s home turf.

However, in this district rematch, the Warriors would not fade into the night on their home field.

Trailing by that 1-0 deficit at the half, James Ray’s club fought back, and thanks to Adam Erp’s header off a beautiful throw in from Jeremy Nissen with 29:47 left in the contest, the Warriors fought back to knot up the score at 1-1, and that’s the way things finished on this night, with the two teams walking off the field knotted up in a 1-1 deadlock.

“We talked about some of the keys to tonight’s game, and one of them was for us to play for a full 80 minutes,” noted Ray, after watching his team tie Somerset in its district opener.

“And, that involved us coming out hard in the first 10 minutes tonight, and then definitely finishing the last 10 minutes,” continued the Warrior coach. “I thought we were there to finish, and get into a 0-0 game at halftime, but Gabe (Altman) just made a special play, and I could hear Steve (Wallace) yelling, and I knew what was coming. Gabe’s a good little player, they got him the ball, and he took care of the rest.”

Altman’s goal just before the end of the first half certainly appeared to give Somerset a huge boost of momentum headed into the second half of play.

Coming off a disappointing, 2-1 loss at Berea over the weekend, the Jumpers came into last night’s contest with a 7-1-1 record overall, but more importantly, was perfect in district play, with wins already over Adair County and Lincoln County.

A win last night over Southwestern, and the Jumpers would have been a perfect, 3-0 against district foes, and would have all but sewn up the number one seed for the district tourney at the end of the season.

However, the Warriors had other ideas on this night, leaving coach Steve Wallace with a sick feeling after the game, knowing that his club had a golden opportunity to pick up a huge district win on the road over an arch-rival last night, but let it slip away.

“That goal by Gabe was huge, because my kids were ready to play in the second half, and I thought we were ready to go,” stated Wallace. “I thought we were going to net two or three more, I really did.”

“Toward the end of the first half, we starting spreading things out, and we were looking better and we were getting better looks,” continued the Jumper coach. “We were scrambling more, my forwards were moving more and getting better runs. I thought we were relaxed, and I thought the last 15 to 20 minutes of the second half we controlled the action. But, we just couldn’t get another score.”

Despite only one loss on the year, Somerset has been plagued by the same bugaboo that keeps rearing its ugly head over and over for the Briar Jumpers, and that has been a lack of scoring.

Take last night for instance.

The Jumpers had 14 shots on goal against Southwestern, compared to just five by the Warriors, yet, Wallace and crew walked off the field after 80 minutes of grueling action with not much to show for their efforts, with the 1-1 tie.

In fact, the most troubling thing for Wallace, and the hardest thing for the Jumper coach to accept, was the fact that his club had 10 corner kicks in last night’s game, yet scored just the lone goal — which didn’t come off a corner kick.

Wallace says that’s totally unacceptable.

“If we could have came out early in the second half and got that second goal, we would have been in great shape, and we had our opportunities,” lamented Wallace.

“It’s like I’ve said from day one, we had 14 shots tonight, yet we had just the one goal,” Wallace said. “We had 10 corner kicks tonight, yet we don’t net a single one of them. To me, that’s just a lack of going hard after the ball. There were a couple of times that we went really hard after it, and those were the ones that we came awfully close to scoring on. However, early on, we wasted five or six of them. We’re getting the shots in each and every game, yet we’re not finishing. We’ve just got to find a way go get the ball into the net. Also, my hat’s off to Southwestern, because I thought James (Ray) really had them playing hard tonight.”

Meanwhile, with the tie against the Jumpers in their district opener, the Warriors record after last night’s game is now 4-2-1 on the year. Ray for one, was just glad to see his club walk away from last night’s contest without another digit in the “L” column.

“That goal before halftime really gave them a boost and it deflated us, so it was important that we come back out and get one early in the second half, and we were able to do that,” pointed out the Warrior coach.

“I told the guys at the half that we needed to come out and play another strong 40 minutes, and we came out and played a strong 40 minutes,” Ray said. “They’re a good team, and they return every starter from last year, and we lost six starters so we knew it would be tough. Going into it, I’d say we have to be pleased with the 1-1 result, especially since I wasn’t very happy with the way we did some of the little stuff in the game. That being said however, you can’t take anything away from Somerset.”

The Jumpers will return home to Clara Morrow Field tomorrow evening for another district matchup, when Somerset will host the Lakers of Russell County.

Southwestern meanwhile, will also be at home on Thursday evening, hosting the Redhounds of Corbin.

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