The 2020 AMS Soccer Season Finally Kicks Off

The 2020 AMS Soccer Season Finally Kicks Off
Posted on 03/09/2020
boys soccer action picAfter what seemed to be 40 days and 40 nights of rain, the Arlington Middle School Boys’ soccer season finally kicked off this past week. The 2020 AMS Soccer Team’s first fixture took them down newly christened Interstate 269 to face perennial powerhouse, and 3-time defending Municipality League Champions, West Collierville Middle School on Monday, then host rival Lakeland Middle Preparatory at home on Thursday.

In the first affair, the Tigers started off slow, giving the current Dragon squad a bit more room to operate than they should have and WCMS was more than willing to accept, controlling the pace of play early. As the game moved forward, around the 8-minute mark, the AMS Tigers started to find the open passing lanes and were able to impressively control the flow of play for the remainder of the half. Despite having the decided advantage in possession and offensive zone time, the Tigers were unable to make those advantages count on the scoreboard and the game went to the half scoreless. The second half started exactly like the first half, with Arlington again giving their opponents more respect than necessary in the first 4 minutes when goalie Conor Getman had to make a brilliant save to keep the scoreboard showing zeroes. Getman’s save seemed to awaken the Tigers, because immediately afterwards, Jackson Bills, Van Murdock, Wesley Henrickson, and Collin Coffield re-established the dominance in the midfield they had seized in the first half. Their work rate was finally rewarded when Coffield was able to find Matthew Hinders in the box midway through the second half to give the Tigers the lead, 1-0. Alas, a team with a pedigree such as West Collierville doesn’t willingly accept defeat at the first sign of adversity. They were able to take advantage of their deep bench and knot the score at 1’s, against the run of play and quite literally seconds before the final whistle to rescue a point in the league standings and deny AMS all 3 points and an early season signature win. Normally, a draw at West Collierville would be an admirable result, one to celebrate even, but the feeling after this game was that they let one get away.

Coming off the bitter result, yet knowing that their opportunity for redemption would arrive in the form of Thursday’s home opener against their biggest rival, Lakeland Middle Preparatory School, the mood and energy of the boys was animated at Tuesday and Wednesday’s practices. The 2019 Lions were in their first year of existence but were still able to give Arlington two extremely competitive games. Both went in favor of AMS, but a lucky break here or there could’ve given LMPS a desired result in either match. Much of the same was expected on Thursday.

A Lakeland/Arlington contest is always going to draw a large crowd and this game was no exception. There were probably a few late arriving spectators, due to the construction of the indoor practice facility taking away half of the parking lot spaces, but those that were settled in for kickoff were given the treat of witnessing Garrett McKenzie’s stupendous header off of a perfect corner from Van Murdock in just the 2nd minute. Just that quick, the score was 1-0 and the Tigers were off and running. Constant pressure on the Lakeland keeper netted Arlington two more tallies before halftime, both courtesy of Ben Myers. Ben’s calmness in the box, and his ability to add an extra touch on the ball before he launches an accurate strike on goal are qualities that every aspiring goal scorer should look to add.

The second half began as the first ended, with AMS in complete control. Apparently, Garrett McKenzie felt bad for the late arriving spectators who missed his early brilliance and scored his second goal of the afternoon on another(!) perfect header from a Van Murdock corner kick, making the score 4-0. Murdock then decided to join the scoring party midway through the second half when Brandon Clark sent a perfect through ball toward goal allowing him to drill a shot past the Lion netminder for a 5-0 Arlington lead. Lakeland didn’t throw in the towel and was able to score the last 2 goals of the game, to add just a slight bit of tension to the match. When the final whistle sounded, Arlington once again had defeated their U.S. Route 70 rivals by a final score of 5-2.

Even though the AMS Tigers were unable to slay the Dragons on that early March, Monday afternoon, the resilience they displayed in being able to tame the Lions from Lakeland in such a decisive manner three days later, is an early indication that the 2020 Arlington Middle School Boys Soccer can not only compete with any team they face, they can emerge victorious when they commit to a full 60 minutes of focus and effort from start to finish. As the weather improves, this version of the Arlington Middle School soccer team looks to improve and build on the successful first week of the season.