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Mustangs’ soccer trends upward

Madison Academy entered the postseason ranked No.3 in the final coaches’ poll of the 2016 season as it sought a second straight appearance in the state final four. CONTRIBUTED
Madison Academy entered the postseason ranked No.3 in the final coaches’ poll of the 2016 season as it sought a second straight appearance in the state final four. CONTRIBUTED

By MIKE EASTERLING / For the Record

HUNTSVILLE – Madison Academy enjoys a high profile statewide in football, basketball, baseball and softball after winning multiple state championships in each sport.

Boys soccer would like to join that list.

The Mustangs, who advanced to the soccer state tournament final four for the first time last season, entered the 2016 playoffs seeking a return trip to John Hunt Park and the Class 1A-3A semifinals.

Coach Will Ratliff, a Huntsville High graduate who led the junior varsity team for two years before taking the varsity job last season, said he’s noticed a change in the program’s atmosphere.

“It’s definitely shifting,’’ he said as the Mustangs prepared for Tuesday’s first-round, sub-state match against West Morgan at home. “I feel like soccer is ready to join the ranks of those other sports.’’

Madison Academy takes a 14-5-1 record and No. 3 ranking into the game against No. 8 West Morgan (12-5-0).

Other first-round matches pair Grissom (9-12-4) at No. 6 Bob Jones (12-8-2) and girls games have Athens Bible School (12-2-0) at No. 8 Madison Academy (15-5-1), Gadsden City (12-4-2) at Bob Jones (11-11-0) and James Clemens (14-8-3) at No. 9 Huntsville (14-8-1).

Ryan Pollard’s 15 goals and 16 assists lead the Mustangs. James Jay has 13 goals and Evan Fausz eight assists. Ryan Pollard, one of 12 seniors on the teams, has 116 saves.

One highlight for Madison Academy this year was its first varsity win, 1-0, over defending state champion Randolph, and the Mustangs’ numbers are growing.

“The program is the largest it’s been since I’ve been here,’’ Ratliff said. “We’ve got seven or eight who will join the varsity next year.”

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