By JD McCarthy
For the Opelika Observer
Following Smiths Station’s 5-2 loss to Auburn High, head coach Jeff Carrero knows his team needs to make defensive adjustments ahead of the final third of the season.
“We just have to make some adjustments, now that we know how Auburn is, I have to make some defensive adjustments,” Carrero said. “We’re definitely going to have to change our defense to meet their attack. We have to close that back door, they exposed our back door, so now I have to close that back door.”
Despite the Panthers loss, Carrero thought his team ended the game on a positive note and was not disappointed.
“I was not disappointed with how we played, I thought the boys gave 100 percent effort and they played within the game. We just have some things that we need to adjust for that style of play, and I have to give credit to Auburn, they are well coached, and they understood what they had to do.”
After falling behind 4-0, freshman Jax Wood subbed in and scored a goal, which Carrero thought “led to the boys getting more relaxed and made the game a little more competitive.”
Even though the Tigers answered back, the Panthers did as well and Carreo was pleased with how his team competed at the end of the game, even when the outcome was inevitable.
“We were down 5-2 and we were scrapping to get that third goal, we knew we were gonna lose but we continued to play hard to score another goal,” he said.
The loss had a much different feel than the 4-0 loss to Trinity Presbyterian last Monday.
“I got very distraught because we did not play well,” Carrero said of the loss. “[Trinity Presbyterian] Is a team we should have competed well against and we did not, we played poorly and that was very upsetting.”
That was a much different loss than the Auburn one, where Carrero thought his boys “played hard” but Auburn was “on us” and admitted “they were the better team.”
With just a third of the season remaining, Carrero is hoping his team will play more consistent in the coming games.
“I’m looking forward to this last third of the season and hopefully we can just find some more consistency in our play,” he said. He’s also looking for his team to “have fun” and “enjoy the game.”
In fact, they did just that on Monday night, beating Eufala 1-0 on senior night. The only goal of the night came from David Ramirez.
“We played well and controlled the tempo but, could not break Eufaula’s defense down,” Carrero said. “They played conservative and relied on the long ball for offense. I was happy we worked the ball around a lot and spread the field out, but did not get the results on offense I expected.”
The win improved the Panthers to 7-4-2 on the season and snapped their two-game losing streak. “It was a good win against an area opponent that always plays their best against us,” Carrero said.
The Panthers will be competing in the Dawg Pound Classic Soccer Tournament this weekend and will look to string a couple of good performances together against three familiar opponents. They will face Dothan on Friday and on Saturday they will play Benjamin Russell in the morning and Opelika in the afternoon. They beat Benjamin Russell 2-0 to open their season and tied Dothan and Opelika in the second week of the season.
For the Panthers to get back to their winning ways they will need to have some big performances from the likes of Tyler Skaggs, Lukas Ruof, Ayden Green, Latham Girona and Ramirez, who are all having “great” seasons, according to Carrero.