Panthers crush Mustangs in first round of state playoffs


Courtesy of Susan Krabsen-Jensen

Senior Casper-Krabsen Jensen hugs fellow senior Josh Sims after Sims scored in the second half, extending the Starr’s Mill lead. The Panthers defeated the Ola Mustangs 6-1 to advance to the second round of the GHSA state playoffs.

Craig Bardo, Staff Writer

After losing the Battle for the Troops and falling to the region’s third seed, Starr’s Mill traveled to Ola for the first round of the GHSA state playoffs. In a triumphant effort, the Panthers gave no ground and crushed the Mustangs, 6-1.

“It was a good collective effort from the boys,” head coach Aaron Buck said. “They did a really good job of implementing the plan we [had].”

Panther goal scorers included sophomore Simon Ruiz with a pair of goals. Seniors Ricardo Leacock, Josh Sims, and Chris Turner and junior Ali Othman added a goal apiece. 

“I was poaching,” Ruiz said. “I was ready for the chances and [took them].”

During the first half of the game, the Panthers pushed the Mustangs hard but could not score. Starr’s Mill ended the stalemate with two quick goals from Leacock and Othman. Ola cut the lead in half, but Ruiz put the Panthers up 3-1 at the break.

In the second half of the game, both teams contended for possession and control around midfield. Ruiz moved the Panther lead to 4-1, before Turner and Sims put the match out of reach. 

“I’m really proud of us,” Sims said. “Greatness awaits.”

With the win, the Panthers advance to the second round to face No. 1 seed Midtown. The Knights easily defeated Apalachee 8-0 and now host Starr’s Mill on April 19 at 8 p.m.