After opening the regular season with a 5-1 loss at Bay High, the Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School experienced a roller coaster while playing five matches over the next 10 days.

After opening the regular season with a 5-1 loss at Bay High, the Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School experienced a roller coaster while playing five matches over the next 10 days.

The ride began with a pair of shutout losses, first 3-0 to Freeport followed by a 7-0 loss Rocky Bayou, as the team wrestled with struggles in the final third of the field.

Both games were in the district.

The shining light in both games was the play of Celeste Chiles in goal. Chiless made 20 saves in the two matches.

“Celeste Chiles is just an amazing keeper, she has helped us stay in games and continues to anchor the defense night in and night out,” said Coach Bobby Alexander. “We have a brand new sweeper in Syndee O’Donnell and it is just going to take some time for those two to learn to work together and help the D organize.

“But they are working at it, willing to learn and I expect great things to come.”

Alexander noted growth by the team in learningh to organize at midfield, but at times opponents found open lanes and scored with solid combinations.

The Lady Tigers turned things around in the next two games, also in the district, as Port St. Joe beat visiting West Gadsden 6-1 and traveled to Franklin County and won 4-1.

Though in the district, given divisional alignment, neither came impacted district seedings.

“We found success in all areas of the field against both foes,” Alexander said. “The defense found out that hard work and communication keeps teams away from the goal.

“The offense began to see how making runs and ball control brings scoring opportunities.”

Maddison Hagler (one goal), Ebony Alexander (four goals, two assists) and Morgan Mills (one goal) each found the net against West Gadsden with Allison Gerspacher and Gena Rocha collectings one assist each.

Port St. Joe was also able to test backup goalkeeper Chloe Jones, who made five saves including stopping penalty kick.

Chiles made 10 saves as the starter in goal.

Alexander scored two goals, both on penalty kicks, and had an assist and Hagler and Gerspacher had one goal each.

Chiles made six saves before giving way to Jones who notched three saves.

The final game of the busy stretch was at home against Marianna, a contest that ended in a 0-0 tie.

“The game was a great test against a much more experienced, athletic and larger team,” Coach Alexander said. “Play was fast and furious for the whole contest. (We) played well on both sides of the field as did Marianna.”

Chiles made several outstanding saves among her six total saves, including one amazing parry and an unbelievable diving stop to keep a clean sheet, Alexander added.

“The offense played very aggressive and did find shooting opportunities but in the end just could not finish,” Alexander said. “For the girls to play like they did is nothing short of a victory. We were down a few players and the ability to substitute was an issue.

“Marianna was able to rest key players and then send them back on the pitch, while our girls logged an average of 73 out of 80 possible minutes. Some played sick, some are playing banged up and they never once quit.”