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New Albany opened their 2010 soccer season with a split over Saltillo Tuesday night.
Graham Collins scored the Bulldogs’ first goal of the season in the fifth minute then assisted in the first of Gabriel Fernandez goals less than two minutes later.
“We really didn’t know what to expect out of them, but we also didn’t know what to expect out of ourselves after the Amory Jamboree,” head coach Taylor Nichols said. “We knew if we played well and played as a team, we would do good, and that’s what they did tonight. It was an overall group effort, and that’s what was able to put us on top.”
The Tigers scored their lone goal off a penalty kick in the first half, as the Bulldogs’ defense and keeper Alex Harrison held Saltillo scoreless for the remainder of the match, winning 9-1.
“What I’m really proud of is how he read that PK,” Nichols said of Harrison. “Those are hard to read, and he went the right way and he was in the right spot; it’s just hard to block a ball that close to the post. I was pleased with how he did, and as the season goes on, we’ll be able to see what he’s capable of, as we’ll play better teams who will have more opportunities against us.”
New Albany scored seven first half goals, led by Gabriel Fernandez with three and Carlos Zaragoza with two. Along with Collins, Anthony Fernandez scored a goal with less than five minutes before the half.
Around 10 minutes into the second, Gabriel Fernandez connected on his fourth goal, assisted by Anthony Fernandez, and Juan Fernandez capped the scoring with 18 minutes remaining in the match.
In the girls’ game, Kristen Olsen scored her first goal of the season, but the Lady Bulldogs fell, 7-1 to the Lady Tigers.
“They were outmatched. If we had played the way we can play, it would have made a difference. Saltillo was fast and kept the ball moving,” NAHS head coach Les Huntington said.
Saltillo scored three goals off corner kicks, and Huntington opted to give each keeper on the roster a chance to play in the season opener. The Lady Bulldogs are young this year, but, along with the boys this weekend, will travel to Tupelo looking to make early season adjustments in the Tupelo Jamboree.
The Bulldogs will play Starkville and Caledonia, while the Lady ‘Dawgs will take on Clinton and Newton County on Saturday, and New Albany will return home next Tuesday, hosting Oxford at the Sportsplex.