On Feb. 26, Forest Park traveled to McIntosh, which was 13-0 and ranked No. 1 in Class AAAAA, and lost 10-0. Thursday, the Panthers will host Starr’s Mill, which is not far behind the Chiefs in the rankings.
“Honestly, it’s going to be a mental challenge more than anything,” White said. “This team is going to be in much better shape than us but in terms of skill our guys are just as skilled as some of the best teams in the state which is disappointing when we lose pretty badly like we did to McIntosh.”
Therefore, Forest Park will have to compensate for its conditioning issues with a great amount of belief.
“We will need more people ready to beat Starr’s Mill and ready to play their best soccer against them,” White said. “We have to be excited to get on the field and work hard.”
The Panthers must also have the same defensive intensity they had against Mt. Zion (1-6) last Friday which led to 2-0 victory over the Bulldogs and their fifth straight win.
“It was the first time we’ve shut out a team in Clayton County this year—which is one of our goals every game,” White said.
Forest Park also defeated Riverdale 11-1, Morrow 6-1 and Mundy’s Mill 6-1.
“I always like to say defense first,” White said. “Defense is how you get to the playoffs and how you win in the playoffs. It’s really disappointing that we haven’t been able to get those shutouts against other Clayton county teams but we’ve played pretty well against them.”
On Friday, Omar Cruz and Martin Alvez both scored goals in the first half to lead the Panthers, who still have room for improvement.
“We need to play teams like Mt. Zion better and no disrespect to Mt. Zion but they lost to McIntosh 11-0,” White said. “The caliber of soccer I would like the team to be at is being able to beat teams in Clayton County without having to worry. Then be competitive with the teams outside of the county.”
After their contest with Starr’s Mill, the 8-2 Panthers will visit much-improved Jonesboro (6-1-1) on April 2.