Bulldogs end final home game with a bang

Published 8:37 pm Wednesday, January 5, 2022

NATCHEZ — Natchez put the soccer ball past Forest Hill’s goalkeeper, not one, not two, not three, not four but five times as the Bulldogs won 5-1. It is their second win of the season and a victory salute for the seniors playing in their final home game.

Head coach Josh West tired running from the cold water bottle shower as his players celebrated on the field at the full-time whistle. He said the water was not that cold.

“It was refreshingly cold. I was on fire for the squad tonight. It was the most fun I have ever had,” West said. “I didn’t expect five goals tonight. When I did my research before the game, I was satisfied to assume we may have a fair match. I knew we would have opportunities, but five goals were far-fetched.”

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Jessie “Batman” Grayson opened the scoresheet for Natchez by getting on the end of a through ball and driving a shot past the diving goalkeeper. He wheeled away in celebration jumping, hollering, and chest-bumping his teammates.

“When I got on the ball, I knew I was going to come out on top,” Grayson said. “This win tonight gives us a lot of confidence moving forward.”

Eric Smith scored the second goal with 12:50 left in the first half. He said it felt good to get on the scoring sheet. His goal came off of a rebound as Natchez would continue to crash the net.

Forest Hill would cut the lead to 2-1 on a penalty kick before the end of the half. This made Smith’s goal the game-winner in his final home game as a senior.

“It felt great. We have been playing through some adversity all year,” Smith said. “We used everything our coach taught us tonight, and we came out with a victory. For our last home game and as a senior, it felt great to sign off on our home field with a victory.”

The second half would have a flurry of chances for Natchez to score. Darrius “Squirrel” Williams scored two goals, and Javis Johnson got on the scoresheet. Squirrel was relentless in his offensive and defensive efforts, West said.

Williams defended a throw-in two times in a row by making a header in the second half while telling a Forest Hill player he couldn’t outrun him. Johnson said his goal was the first time he had ever scored in a soccer game. His shot was beautifully placed to the near post.

“I wasn’t expecting it to go in,” Johnson said. “It just rolled in and I was so excited about it. When you see your team winning it is very exciting.”

Natchez showed progress in its possessing and passing. They shielded the ball well and continued to make drop passes to create space to create goal-scoring opportunities. The Bulldogs could have had more than five goals in the game, West said.

He thanked Jacorey Carter for giving great input from the sidelines. They travel Tuesday to take on district opponent West Jones. As a team, they could improve on not being caught offsides. Although they showed a better understanding of the rule, West said.

“They are so eager to make the run they aren’t paying attention to the defensive line,” West said. “We take our focus off where we are on the field. It’s also about us getting a feel for the game, and learning how to get in a position to make the run. It comes with repetition.”