Record setting season ends for Pelham soccer

Pelham High School boys’ soccer coach Patrick McDonald didn’t put any added pressure on his players as they prepared for a matchup with Hoover in the first round of the Alabama High School Athletic Association playoffs April 27.

McDonald hoped for the best, but he knew the success of his team didn’t rest on whether the Panthers won or lost. The 2010 Pelham High School boys’ soccer team was already the most decorated team in program history.

Playing the role of underdog, Pelham nearly pulled the upset before Hoover escaped with a 2-1 win over the Panthers at Bobby Hayes Field.

“Our guys played their hearts out,” McDonald said. “(The loss) doesn’t diminish what they’ve done this season.”

The Panthers (17-4-2) relied on goalkeeper Hunter Payant and the back line as they kept the Bucs off the scoreboard and played to a 0-0 tie with Hoover in the first 40 minutes.

Hoover scored two goals in the first 22 minutes of the second half before Pelham made a late push.

Senior Saul Arceo fired a shot toward the goal from 66 yards away from the net and the ball deflected into the net off a Hoover player to cut the lead to 2-1 with 15:22 remaining in the contest.

The Panthers had two more scoring chances late on free kicks by Arceo, but couldn’t manage to get a game-tying goal into the net.

Despite the Panthers’ second-consecutive loss in the opening round of the playoffs, the 2010 Pelham squad shattered plenty of school records and featured the school’s all-time leading scorer in Arceo.

McDonald said the senior class will be remembered as the group that set the watermark for Pelham soccer.

“They set a good tone for the longevity of the program,” McDonald said. “The middle school kids are seeing how much success they’ve had. They’ve seen if they work as one unit, they can accomplish a lot.”

McDonald said he’s seen Arceo develop into one of the best soccer players in the state.

“I’ve seen him really blossom,” McDonald said. “He is an asset.”

GIRLS

Spain Park 5, Pelham 0

Cavanagh Baker, Gillian Garver, Lakin Eddy, Alex Gaskins and Taylor Bisso scored one goal each for the defending Class 6A champion Jaguars, who improved to 20-4-2 overall.

Lauren Arnold finished with five saves.

Pelham goalkeeper Selina Delgadillo recorded 12 saves for the Panthers, who fell to 19-3-1 overall.

Spain Park will face Oak Mountain in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs May 1.