McIntosh fans storm the field after the Chiefs win.
(Staff Photos by Christopher Dunn)
It doesn't get much better than victory over a rivalry. Well, unless that victory wins you a region championship. The McIntosh Chiefs exploded in celebration over their 4-2 win against Starr's Mill on the Panthers' own turf Tuesday night.
"It feels good to win. Especially in this game," said McIntosh coach Bunky Colvin. "It's always physical, always emotional. It's easy to lose focus on the game plan, but we were steady all night. We had a belief that we were going to be able to score more goals this time."
Earlier this season the Panthers handed the Chiefs a 3-2 loss. McIntosh had that game on their minds and were hungry for payback. "It felt like things didn't go our way the first time played them. We wanted to come out this time and play our best," Colvin said.
With two matches already under their belt, it wouldn't shock anyone to see these two teams face off again in the state playoffs. "Starr's Mill is an excellent team," Colvin praised. "It wouldn't surprise me at all if we see them again for a state title."
For the Chiefs, taking the region is nice, but they have a much bigger goal in mind. "Winning this region is special. We're going to enjoy it tonight. But our number one focus is winning state," Colvin said. "We've been so close the last three years we feel like we're due."
McIntosh struck first in the match, upsetting the home crowd with a goal midway through the first half. Vojtech Martinek did the honors, drilling it home off a rebound.
Starr's Mill answered back on a rebound of his own with David Murtaugh knotting the game up by booting in a fumbled ball.
Midway through the second half, the Chiefs pushed back ahead. Weston Taylor came up with a ball in a crowd off a corner kick and redirected it for the go-ahead goal.
Ten minutes later, the Chiefs stretched the lead to 3-1. Vojtech Martinek struck again, this time drilling the ball off the right post and ricocheting it into the net.
Starr's MIll didn't give up, putting their impressive offense on the attack. Thomas McCalla tallied the goal by redirecting a corner kick.
McIntosh's defense held steady from there, keeping the Panthers from any clean shots on goal. The Chiefs iced the game with Salomon Lorenzano scoring one-on-one with just four seconds left.
In the ensuing chaos, the Chief fans rushed the field and senior defender Westin Lendon left the pitch to ring the Starr's Mill victory bell. With time left on the clock, officials were forced to give Lendon a red card, requiring he sit out the first game of the state playoffs.
After the field was finally cleared, the game was resumed so the final four seconds could be played. When the final buzzer sounded, the Chief fans again rushed the field to celebrate with their region champion squad.
McIntosh will open the state tournament on Tuesday versus Riverdale. Starr's Mill will also play on Tuesday against Jonesboro.