jma boys soccer vs bulloch

John Milledge junior Tommy Collier (9) dribbles up the field with teammate Harrison Cart (7) in tow. Collier finished Monday’s match against Bulloch with a pair of goals to lead the Trojans’ scoring efforts.

Last week in their 3-1 loss to Baldwin, the John Milledge Academy boys soccer team just could not finish on its scoring opportunities.

Monday brought a completely different story for the Trojans (5-5) as they put up three first-half goals against visiting Bulloch Academy. The visiting Gators of Statesboro got a goal themselves fairly early, but that would be all as JMA secured the 3-1 victory to get its record back to .500 and halt a three-game losing skid. 

“We possessed extremely well like we’ve done every game, but the biggest thing was we were taking shots and found the back of the net,” Trojan head coach Cody Mahler said. “We haven’t been able to finish the last two games, so finding the back of the net was crucial tonight.”

Mahler’s team wasted absolutely no time before notching the game’s opening goal. The junior connection was strong early as midfielder Carson Tom brought the ball up the right side and found classmate Grayson Aldridge who worked it through a crowd to striker Tommy Collier, also a junior, who sent it past the Bulloch keeper to put JMA up 1-0 just a minute and a half in. 

The Gators answered about seven minutes later. They pieced together some nice ball movement they had not shown up to that point to create a 1-1 tie. The Trojans’ next goal came after the home team was able to turn a little defense into offense. Bulloch threatened with a shot, but JMA goalie Caleb Todd was there for the save and sent the ball on deep downfield to Collier. The junior showed patience and took the massive amount of space that was given him — at least 30 yards — before getting the look he wanted that produced the go-ahead score at the first half’s 24:28 mark. 

John Milledge took possession with around nine minutes to go and never really gave it up until the game’s final goal. The Gator defense was bending but not breaking until a Trojan throw-in from deep in Bulloch territory made it through a human jumble to JMA eighth-grader Camden Tom whose right-foot shot the ball past the visiting keeper with 6:27 remaining until halftime. It was Tom’s first-ever varsity goal and put an end to the day’s scoring. 

The Trojans kept the pressure on throughout the second half to keep Bulloch at bay, while the Gators’ offense really only came in spurts. 

JMA boys soccer has the rest of the week off for spring break and is scheduled to return to competition April 8 at Valwood. Mahler likes where his team is following a quick 10 games in only 21 days.

“I feel good,” the head coach said. “This is only the third game where we’ve played one game in a day. All of our other seven have been played tournament-style, so I’m very proud of how we’ve been playing to this point in the season. We’ve got an identity, and when we finish we can be very good.”

MaxPreps power rankings will determine the Trojans’ standing heading into the GISA state playoffs, which are set to begin next month. The first official rankings are scheduled to be released Thursday.

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