Pelham boys, girls sweep Thompson in thrilling soccer matches

The Class 6A, Section 6 boys’ and girls’ soccer matches between rivals Pelham High School and Thompson High School followed the same script March 8.

Suffocating defense and sharp goaltending play kept each contest a low-scoring affair for the 80 minutes in regulation.

A clutch goal in the final minute of a five-minute overtime period in each match by Pelham players handed both the boys and girls a 2-1 win in overtime over the Warriors.

It came as no surprise to any of the four coaches involved, who have never seen the rivalry between the schools at a higher level.

“It’s really amped up over the past couple of years,” said Thompson girls’ soccer coach Nathan Button.

The girls’ game was a defensive struggle for the entire first half. Both teams struggled to get open looks at the net as the two teams played to a 0-0 tie after the first 40 minutes.

Pelham’s Mara DeLuca broke the tie with an unlikely shot on goal from nearly 40 yards away from the net with 25:41 remaining in the contest. DeLuca’s open field kick took an awkward bounce over the top of Thompson goalkeeper Danielle Morris and into the back of the net to give the Panthers’ a 1-0 lead.

“We’ve struggled with the long balls,” Button said.

The Warriors (9-2-2, 4-1 in Class 6A, Section 6) responded with a goal by Kacey Chance less than two minutes later. Chance beat Pelham goalkeeper Selina Delgadillo on the left side of the net with 24:03 left in the game to tie the score the at 1-1.

Clean looks at the goal were few and far between for the final 24 minutes. It appeared the game was headed for a penalty-kick shootout after the five-minute overtime period before Brittany Boles netted the game-winner for the Panthers (11-1, 4-0) with only 58 seconds left on the clock.

Morris collided with a Pelham player and Boles fired a shot over the top of the two players and into the back of the net.

Pelham coach Tony DeLuca said the win was especially sweet for the Panthers’ senior class, which hadn’t defeated rival Thompson during their first three years on the varsity team.

“I’m proud of the girls,” DeLuca said. “The girls have put in time and conditioning. Nobody is expecting us to make a run, but it looks like we’ve got a pretty good team.”

The boys’ match between the Panthers and Warriors was also a defensive struggle.

The two teams played to a scoreless tie for the first 39 minutes and 58 seconds before Cyprin Kanneh bounced a rebound attempt off the top post and into the net with just 1.4 seconds remaining in the first half to give the Panthers (6-1-1, 4-0 in Class 6A, Section 6) a 1-0 halftime lead.

The Warriors (8-2-2, 4-1) tied the game with 14:26 remaining in the game when Trey Jacobson pounded a free kick from 10 yards out into the right side of the net. A free kick was awarded to Thompson after a handball call on the Panthers.

Alex Swan scored the game-winner for the Panthers with just 13 seconds left on the clock in overtime. Swan blasted the ball into the right side of the net from nearly 25 yards out to seal the win.

Pelham coach Patrick McDonald said he expects another battle when the Warriors return the trip to Pelham.

“There’s a reason we’re ranked very close to each other,” McDonald said. “Thompson played an outstanding game. They were up for the challenge.”