Convincing win moves boys’ soccer into Elite Eight


Shelby Foster

Starr’s Mill’s keeper blocks one of many attempted goals by the Thomas County Central Yellow Jackets during the second round of AAAAA GHSA state playoffs. “[Going into Saturday], we definitely need to talk more and call for the ball if one person is going to go for it, so we don’t collide and both go for the ball at the same time,” freshman Andrew Cole said.

Dana Gould, A&E co-Editor

The Panthers played the Thomas County Central Yellow Jackets in the second round of AAAAA GHSA state playoffs. Starr’s Mill emerged victorious 6-2 in this relatively straightforward, calm game.

Juniors Ryan Shanahan, Jonathan Ulversoy, and Santiago Espinoza, and senior Sam Pompeo, combined to score six goals for the Panthers. The Yellow Jackets only scored two goals, both of which occurred in the second half.

Shelby Foster
Starr’s Mill player prevents a Thomas County Central Yellow Jacket from stealing the ball. The Panthers emerged victorious with a score of 6-2, allowing them to advance into the third round of state playoffs to play Carrollton.

“If players are playing well, I really don’t want to take them off just for the sake of subbing,” head coach Mike Hanie said. “The biggest thing is trying to get the players on when I can get them on and getting rest for some players [when possible as well].”

One minute into the first half, Starr’s Mill made an attempt at the goal. The first half moved relatively slow at first as the two teams seemed evenly matched with multiple failed goal attempts on both sides and varying possession of the ball. The Panthers played good offense throughout this half, but seemed unable to get the ball through and past the other team’s keeper.

With twenty minutes left in the first half, Shanahan scored the first goal for the Panthers and of the night. Following the first goal, both teams had intermittent spurts of aggression, but yielded no shots on goal.

Finally the scoring flood gates opened for the Panthers who scored three more times in the first half. Pompeo started the charge when he barely shot one past the Yellow Jacket keeper. The first half ended in a promising 4-0 score for the Panthers.

“[Not having someone sub in] definitely makes me want to play my best, so I can just get more minutes in and play longer,” freshman Andrew Cole said. “Because I just enjoy playing soccer.”

The game’s second half picked up slightly as the Panthers were tiring quickly and running out of the necessary momentum to stop their opponents. Two early goals cut the home team’s lead in half. With 36 minutes left in the second half, the Yellow Jackets scored their first goal of the evening. Four minutes later, Starr’s Mill’s keeper was pushed out of the way, allowing Thomas County Central to score yet again. The Starr’s Mill lead was now 4-2.

After the Yellow Jackets scored their only two goals of the match, the Panthers regained some of their momentum, preventing any more goals from the other team and scoring two more themselves. With 29 minutes left in the game, Ulversoy scored inside the box from the right side center. Espinoza would add another, sealing the 6-2 win for the Panthers.

“Getting past the second round [of state playoffs] is probably the hardest,” Shanahan said. “Big games get bigger, they get harder, but just easier to play, [so] a second round win is good coming into the third round against a good team.”

The Panthers play their next round of state playoffs in an away game against Carrollton this Saturday. The match starts at 8 p.m.