Amory prepared for first soccer title-game trip

By Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal

CLINTON – Amory got over the state semifinals hump Wednesday with a 2-0 win against New Albany. As a result, the Panthers will tread new turf today, playing Florence in the 4A state championship match.
The match is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. at Clinton High School’s football stadium.
Amory spent Friday practicing on Madison Central’s artificial turf football field, which has the same surface as the field in Clinton.
“Getting to kick around on an artificial surface, I think will definitely going to help us out some,” Amory coach Nathan Clayton said.
Amory (18-6-1) boasts a lineup that features nine seniors, who played little part in the school’s longest previous run to North half in 2007 in the 1A/2A/3A division.
Clayton said the bus ride following a sendoff from the school Friday morning was uneventful.
“It was a little quiet on the bus,” he said. “I think we’re just trying to get in the right mental state. Florence is a really good team. They’ve got good speed, especially up top. They’re going to be as good a 4A team as we’ve played this season definitely.”
Senior keeper Kyle Thomas had one of his best games Wednesday for Amory, making eight saves against an aggressive New Albany attack.
He’ll be on the spot again today against a Florence team (16-7-1) that defeated Northeast Jones 2-1 in the South semifinal.
While Amory has the state’s leading scorer in junior Zach Khima, who scored his 57th goal Wednesday night, Florence rotates four players at forward, with left-footed Nick Rushing leading the Eagles with 15 goals.
Clayton said Zach Traylor (10 goals) and Cole Mitchell (11 goals) do a good job of controlling the tempo from their midfield spots.