Cougars pounce on set pieces, playoff hopes

Published 7:27 pm Monday, February 6, 2023

BROOKHAVEN — Matt Newman scored a goal and played a role in an assist for Brookhaven Academy in route to a 3-0 win over Oak Forest Monday evening. The Yellowjackets had to see out the second half with 10 men after a player received a red card for dissent and kicking a ball demonstratively across the field. 

The win is helpful for the Cougars as they control their playoff destiny Thursday against Copiah Academy. A win would secure them a No. 1 seed in the division and see them on to the playoffs. If Copiah Academy were to win Thursday night, it would end BA’s season. 

It was their best performance of the year. Head Coach Alex Brown told the team it was a “good result,” and he was “proud of them,” following the game. 

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Brookhaven Academy got a dream start off of a set piece and scored all of its goals on set pieces. Newman said he chipped in a free kick over the keeper’s head for his goal to give the squad a 1-0 lead and helped settle any nerves.

“I thought I overshot the goal. My first thought was that it was over but I had chipped the keeper. To get to 1-0 it was good.,” Newman said. “ I took nearly every free kick outside of the box. Typically, I don’t take advantage of those opportunities. I just tried to aim on frame and hopefully someone can tap in a rebound off the keeper if not.” 

Midway through the second half, Newman played a perfect ball into the box on a free-kick which made its way outside to Cooper Strickland. He crossed it into Yojan Hernadez who finished the chance with a laser shot to go up 2-0. 

Hernandez would score again with less than 10 minutes left in the game on a free kick from the edge of the box. His shot was on the near post and just past the Oak Forest keeper’s hands. It put the game to bed with a 3-0 lead. 

Oak Forest playing with 10 men relieved some pressure on the BA defense in the second half but they had to stay vigilant to see the game out. Relief and joy filled the Cougars faces at the final whistle. 

“Oak Forest is a good team and I’m surprised we played this good against them,” he said. “Enrique, Cooper and Yojan played well. We played our best game on defense. It was a great experience.” 

Defensively, they kept another clean sheet with goalkeeper Jaden Lea working hard in goal. BA defenders did a good job limiting shot opportunities and blocking and chances with their bodies. Newman said there was a 15 second scramble in the box late in the first half which was nerve wracking but they made it through without conceding. 

Austin Tanksley, Tyler Shann, Parker Moak, Levi Dale and Parker Miller all played strong games on the backline for BA. Enrique twisted and turned his way through Oak Forest and drew fouls to set up those free kicks. He also drew the foul which led to the red card in the second half for Oak Forest. 

Newman is a junior who started playing soccer in seventh grade. He said the game is a lot of fun and keeps him in shape for other sports like baseball. A win Thursday would send them on to the playoffs and they would likely face East Rankin or Central Hinds. BA is playing beautiful and efficient soccer at the right time of the year. 

“Thursday will determine the rest of our season for us,” Newman said. “We are coming together. It is good to fight hard as a team and not just individually. We are all doing great.”