Jan. 21—Jacksonville churned out an impressive second half effort to shutout Whitehouse, 2-0, in the Tribe's home opener at The Historic Tomato Bowl on Friday night.
The win avenged a loss to the Wildcats in the first match of the 2023 campaign that took place in the Forney Tournament.
With the scoreboard reading 0-0 to start the second half, the Tribe came out for the final 40:00 and executed a gameplan that featured some key adjustments made at the break by Jacksonville head coach Rudy Jaramillo and assistant coach Cory Kutin, to near perfection in securing the victory.
"We changed some things up at the half," Jaramillo explained. "We (defended) the guy that was feeding their No. 4 (Luke Neely) the ball and we able to limit the number of shots that he could get off in the second half."
In the first half Whitehouse recorded six shots on goal and in the final half, only three. In fact, the Wildcats (7-4) didn't get a shot off until the 19:20 mark of the second half.
Jacksonville goalkeeper Davy Smith had a huge night, collecting nine saves, in route to netting a clean sheet win over a quality opponent.
"We knew we had to get it done," Smith said. "I was able to lock down and my team played well in front of me."
Smith said although Jacksonville (6-2-2) and Whitehouse are no longer in the same district, it is always an intense match.
"We are still rivals," he said. "I think because they are 5-A and we are 4-A now, from our point of view, it's even more of a rivalry."
A Dylen Roberts shot from the box from the right side made it past Whitehouse keeper Beau Benson, giving the Tribe a 1-0 lead with 23:25 left in regulation.
Then, with 4:06 left to play, Armando Lara, Jacksonville's leading scorer, collected a rebound and launched a shot from close range that found the back of the twine.
Jacksonville had 13 shots on goal in the match, compared to the Wildcats' nine.
Whitehouse was awarded five corner kicks while the Indians had two.
"This really felt like a district match to me," Jaramillo said. "We played them (Whitehouse) once away from home and then playing them here (on Friday)," he said. "Whitehouse has been playing well and they gave us all that we wanted."
The Tribe have an open date on Tuesday before launching district play at 6:30 p.m. on Friday by hosting Madisonville.