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Blaze burn Pioneers
Joshua vs
James Clark photo Josh Macanus plays the ball during Monday's match in Murfreesboro. The Pioneers lost 3-1 to the Blackman Blaze.

Exhaustion got the best of the Pioneers in Murfreesboro Monday.

The Warren County High School soccer team lost 3-1 against Blackman, surrendering three goals in the second half after taking a halftime lead against the Blaze.

“I was really pleased with how we played early. It was big to carry a lead into halftime against one of the best teams in Murfreesboro,” said coach Matt Jackson. “Depth came into play in the second half. We seemed to run out of steam.”

James Jackson gave the Pioneers the lead, catching the Blaze flat-footed in the opening minutes. The Pioneers’ top offensive threat bullied his way to the goal, bouncing off and sprinting around several Blaze defenders before uncorking a screamer that found the back of the net.

Jackson’s Herculean effort to put the Pioneers up immediately was important to the team’s game plan, which focused heavily on defense and making the most of limited opportunities.

“We knew we were going to have to defend like crazy. We did for a long time,” said Jackson. “Getting an early 1-0 lead only helped the matter. We were able to get back and protect.”

Blackman started seizing control in the second half, throwing waves of bodies at Warren County. The Blaze finally broke through in the 47th minute, with Nehemiah Lazo blasting a shot past Josiah Jackson.

Warren County saw the game slip away in the span of three minutes. Blackman netted two goals in quick succession – both by Luke Buckley – to put away the game.

The loss stung, but coach Jackson took away some positives from a solid effort against the Blaze.

“We hung in there for a long time. I think we’re getting better,” said Jackson. “We need to keep getting better as we get into district play.”

The Pioneers will know soon how they measure up against their District 6AAA foes. Warren County will play host to Rhea County Thursday. The game times have changed, with the junior varsity game now set to start at 4 p.m. and the varsity match kicking off at 6 p.m.