The Starkville Academy Volunteers surrendered a lead to the Pillow Academy Mustangs on the soccer field Tuesday night, but they were still able to avoid their first loss of the season.
Starkville Academy and Pillow Academy played to a 3-3 tie at the Starkville Sportsplex soccer complex.
With the Vols down three players to illness and injury, coach Robert Gardner felt it was best not to play overtime with the Mustangs in this case.
At the end of 80 minutes of play, the two teams shook hands and got out of the cold.
"It's a long season," Gardner said. "From beginning to end, you are talking about a 12 or 13 week season and you carry on through these games. You may not pick up an injury now, but if anything were to happen, logically I couldn't make any sense of (playing overtime).
"For the work you put in, you certainly want a win out of it, but the opposite side of that, what does it do for you psychologically. For large portions of the match, we controlled and were a better team, but we were also missing two starters and one captain."
Starkville Academy, which had not played since Dec. 1 at the Southaven Tournament, was concerned about challenging Pillow Academy with such a long layoff.
With that and the inconsistent practice schedule due to the weather, Gardner liked the way the Vols competed.
"As far as the performance on the field, the effort was fantastic and we knew it was never going to be easy," Gardner said. "You factor in a variety of circumstances and I was pleased with the effort."
Matt Jones scored a pair of goals and Jake Goodwin added another to give SA a lead, but the Mustangs scored midway through the second half to tie the match.
The Vols did not allow the visitors to get anything further.
"Even with two starting players missing, we were better than them (Tuesday night)," Gardner said. "I feel incredibly positive because that's one of the teams that will finish in the top four of the playoffs. When we can play with the strength of the team, there's no telling what can happen."
Starkville Academy's record stands at 3-0-1 going into Thursday's match at Heritage Academy. Saturday's home match against Madison-Ridgeland Academy has been canceled.
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