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By LEE ADAMS
Starkville Academy's good start wasn't enough to defeat Jackson Prep.
For the first 20 minutes, the Volunteers battled mainly at mid-field with the Patriots, but it only took the Patriots a few minutes to jump out to a 3-0 lead on their way to a 6-1 win.
"There were good moments and there were bad moments," said SA head coach Robert Gardner. "The first 20 minutes we were extremely good. We were organized, disciplined and we worked hard."
When Jackson Prep (4-1 overall, 2-0 Class AAA-District 2, Division II) started scoring, it seemed as if they were scoring them at will as Robert Tramel, Westin Graves and Nico Juncos scored the first three goals over a 6-minute time frame.
Once the first half came to a close, the Patriots held a 5-0 lead after Watson Lewis and Graves added goals.
Despite Jackson Prep's big lead, the Volunteers (1-3) still had fight in them and they struck first in the second half with a Michael Temple goal.
Not long after Temple put the Vols on the board, Graves picked up his third goal for the hat trick and leading his team to the win.
"I thought we played pretty solid," said Jackson Prep head coach Jon Marcus Duncan. "The goals kind of came in bunches in the first half, which is always good."
The Patriots remain undefeated in the division with the win, but Duncan isn't too comfortable with his team as they are still trying to figure out the right combination of players.
Duncan was happy to see the big lead at halftime so he could see more personnel.
"It's good to get a lot of guys in the game, because we're still trying to find our starting 11," said Duncan. "This was our fifth game and it's been different starters every game so we haven't really settled on a certain 11."
The Patriots win handed the Vols their third division loss this season, but they played hard on Thursday night despite being down by five at the break.
"Our work rate was good," Gardner said. "I thought we pressured their back line when we did get the ball into their defensive third. I thought we pressured the ball well from Jamison McKee and Temple. Our midfield worked hard and had good moments of good passing."
Gardner feels his team could have been more prepared for the game, but they were unable to practice on Wednesday due to the fields at the Sportsplex being closed.
Even without practice Gardner said, "I'm happy with our effort, but we were disorganized at times and stretched a little bit."
Those two key things are what Gardner had planned to work on during practice on Wednesday. Not being able to practice before hosting the Patriots seemed to have an effect on the match, but Jackson Prep worked for the goals they got.
"They are a top team with a very good coach," said Gardner. "I'm not going to say they weren't worth their six goals, but we certainly wanted more out of the match."
The Vols won't have another match until the new year when they travel to Copiah on January 5, 2012.