The top-flight scorer for the Warren County High School soccer team recorded a hat trick, helping the Pioneers to a 4-1 victory over Soddy Daisy.
Etson Mendez, Freddy Franco, Braylon Kirby and Rene Alvarez joined James during senior ceremonies and all were able to celebrate their senior night with a victory. Alvarez got the start in net, while Mendez, Franco and Kirby made big impacts in limiting the Trojan offense during a pivotal District 6AAA matchup.
“Our seniors are all good, hard workers,” said coach Matt Jackson, who watched his oldest son score three goals on senior night. “Rene subbed in and played well in the net. Freddy and Etson have been key to our defense all season, and Braylon has really worked hard for us in the midfield.”
Freshman John Jackson scored the team’s fourth goal, helping the Pioneers secure a spot in the top three in the district standings.
James made sure the Pioneers put away the Trojans. Warren County struck first, with James and Kirby running a give-and-go that resulted in James beating the keeper with his left foot.
Soddy Daisy knotted the score before halftime, scoring on a penalty kick after the Pioneers were called for a shove in the box. It was part of a physical first half, where several yellow cards were handed out.
“It was a physical game. We knew that going in,” said Matt Jackson. “I thought we settled down in th second half. We just had to play through the physicality.”
The Pioneers took a 3-1 lead with two goals near the end of the half. James found an open spot in the middle, whirled around swiftly and finished with a laser to make it 2-1.
John got into the scoring moments later, getting a look from 20 yards out that he banged home to give the Pioneers a two-goal advantage.
James completed the hat trick by getting a steal from a Trojan defender, knocking him off the ball and burying another shot to finish off a solid senior night.
With the win, the Pioneers clinched the No. 3 spot in next week’s District 6AAA tournament. Warren County will take on Rhea County, with the winner advancing to the district finals and earning a bid in the region tournament. The Pioneers lost 3-2 to the Eagles last week.