Jasmine Mathis has been scoring goals at a record-setting pace this season, and she has helped lead the M.L. King girls soccer team to unprecedented success.
The junior forward has scored 53 goals in the team’s 12-2 start, an average of 3.8 per game. That puts her about 20 goals ahead of the next-leading scorer in DeKalb County, according to recent statistics released by the county’s athletics department. And it puts her within three goals of breaking DeKalb public schools’ record of 55, set by Kristin Peagler of Southwest DeKalb in 2013.
Mathis finished with 48 goals in 2016, tying with Mia Carradine of Towers for the county lead.
“It's so much fun to watch Jasmine play,” M.L. King coach Vincent Gatling said. “You see two or three defenders on her, and then somehow she goes by them. She makes shots from angles and distances that don't seem possible. … Jasmine can shoot with both feet and is usually the fastest player on the field. She also has an incredible work ethic and love for the game.”
Mathis also has seven assists this season, making her one of seven M.L. King players among the top 15 in the county in that category.
“We have three unselfish seniors in the midfield – Nina Shaw, Alecia Collins and Asya Willis – who would rather get an assist than score,” Gatling said.
The team’s scoring frenzy – the Lions are averaging 6.8 goals per game – has produced the best season in the school’s history. The 12 victories are a school record, and the 5-1 record in Region 4-AAAAAA has the Lions in position to host a state playoff game for the first time.
The Lions will be making their third consecutive playoff appearance and are seeking their first postseason victory. M.L. King had reached the playoffs only one time before Gatling took over as coach in 2014, inheriting a team that went 0-12 the previous season.
Gatling said five of the team’s seniors will be playing in college next year. They are Mariah Thomas (USC Lancaster), Synebia Martin (Oklahoma School of Arts & Sciences), Collins (Albany State), Shaw (Albany State) and Zaria Humphrey (Albany State).
M.L. King returns to action Friday night against Arabia Mountain before closing the regular season next week against Mount Zion and Forest Park.
On the schedule
With less than two weeks remaining until the start of the postseason, there are still plenty of region championships and playoff berths up for grabs. Here are a few of the big games scheduled for Friday night that will have a significant impact on the final standings:
*Walton at Lassiter: Third-ranked Walton (11-4, 4-0) can clinch the Region 4-AAAAAAA title with a victory. A win by No. 2 Lassiter (11-2-1, 3-1) likely would produce a three-way tie for first place with Roswell, which beat Lassiter and lost to Walton.
*Parkview at Brookwood: Both teams are unbeaten in 7-AAAAAAA. No. 9 Parkview (10-4-1, 5-0) would clinch the region title with a win. No. 7 Brookwood (9-3-1, 4-0) would still need to beat third-place Lakeside-Atlanta on Tuesday to claim the outright title.
*Lambert at Forsyth Central: No. 4 Lambert (13-3, 8-1) can clinch the outright title in Region 5-AAAAAAA with a victory against a Forsyth Central team it beat 5-0 on March 10. A loss would drop the Longhorns into a first-place tie with South Forsyth.
*Harrison at Sequoyah: Harrison, ranked No. 1 in Class AAAAAA, can wrap up the Region 6 championship and complete a perfect region season. Sequoyah and Creekview have one loss each in the region. Harrison beat Creekview 3-0 on March 14.
*Dawson County at Lumpkin County: Second-ranked GAC (9-4-2, 4-0) has all but wrapped up the Region 7-AAA title, so this game likely determines the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds. Dawson County (11-2, 2-1) is ranked No. 3, and Lumpkin (12-1, 4-1) is No. 4.