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Jags dominate opener

East Jessamine wins first game under Burnside

By DEREK BRIGHTWELL

derek.brightwell@centralkynews.com

The first game of the Devon Burnside era at East Jessamine High School resulted in a 4-1 victory of Paris on Monday, Aug. 12.

I can breathe now,” an exasperated Burnside said after the victory. “I feel pretty good. They played with confidence. They had their moments, obviously, but when they were on they were on and when they were off they were off. We have a lot of work to do, but I’m super excited. The girls are happy, I’m happy.”

Junior forward Jocelyn Salazar barely gave the fans or the Lady Hounds a chance to breathe as she put the first goal of the game in during the 13th minute and immediately followed it with a goal less than a minute later.

“Those first two so back-to-back really set the tone,” Burnside said. “I think the other team got a little intimidated and it turned my momentum up. It kind of set the tone for the game.”

Before the season, Burnside had considered Salazar to be a breakout contender for this year because “she’s probably faster than anyone else on the field” and would “run straight through you to get what she wants.” Salazar put all of those skills on display in the season opener.

Junior Midfielder Ashlyn McHolan scored the other two goals, both in the first half, including one during stoppage time that gave the Jaguars the 4-1 lead they would not relinquish.

Junior goalkeeper Marissa Perez entered in the second half and shut the door on Paris. She had been battling a knee injury all offseason, and Burnside was not sure what she would get out of her junior keeper.

“I didn’t go with her in the first half because of that knee injury and I didn’t know how she’d be feeling,” Burnside said. “I had her warm up and I had no intention of putting her in honestly just because of that injury and I’d rather have her later than early. But I figured we’d try it out (in the second half) and she ended up saving the game, in a way. She did some crazy saves that I’d never seen out of her before.”

In addition to McHolan, Salazar, and Perez, Burnside also considered freshman forward Riley Fuller as a star of the game.

“She’s definitely up and coming,” Burnside said of the freshman. “She did really well. She was a little nervous, she hadn’t really played competitive soccer at all. So for her to come out and play a full varsity game and do well at it. That really showed me that she’s got a lot of potential.

Overall, Burnside was excited and relieved to get the first game out of the way, and come away with a 1-0 record. She acknowledged that the stress of being a new head coach — she had been the assistant coach the previous two years — and having a young team caused her to be on edge for the game.

“I was high anxiety the whole time because it is my first year as head coach. I have a lot of eyes on me being so young and my team being so young,” she said. “There’s not a lot of people in our corner. There’s a lot of pressure, a lot of things we need to get done. I was pretty anxious. I know Megan (Wall, assistant coach) wasn’t as anxious as I was and she kind of calmed me down. We had the utmost faith in them and they showed out and we did it.”

The game mirrored what Burnside said about her team in practice a week before the game. The Jaguars lost six players off of last year’s team, which was primarily its defensive core. But it returned most of its offensive firepower. She wanted to keep on the attack offensively, while being more conservative on the defensive half of the field.

“I’d had some people out of practice and they didn’t really know the shape that I wanted them to do. They kept it together in that first half, but in the second they kind of let up and weren’t staying in their shape as much,” she said. “I do want them to press heavy on the offensive side because I think if we stay going forward, if we keep it up on this half, they can’t get back to ours. The push, offensively, yes I would like it to be heavy but I think it’s just how the game went.”

There’s still some work to be done for East Jessamine in Burnside’s first year, but with a win in her first career game, she was all smiles.