Hornets claim section championship
FROM STAFF REPORTS
The Chelsea High School girls’ soccer team claimed the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 5A, Section 3 championship April 19 following a 4-0 win over Sylacauga.
The Hornets’ victory set a new school record for wins. Chelsea posted its 18th victory of the season, surpassing last season’s school record.
Britne Holderby led the Hornets with two goals in the victory.
Stephanie LeBeau, who recorded a team-high three assists, and Cheyenne Thompson contributed one goal each in the win. Madison Gowins finished with one assist.
Chelsea goalkeeper Ashleigh Niven registered one save as she posted her 16th shutout of the season.
In a rivalry full of classic moments, the battle between the Chelsea High School boys’ soccer team and section rival Sylacauga was perhaps the greatest of all.
Eric King’s glorious strike that stung the netting in the right upper 90 ten seconds into the first overtime lifted the Chelsea to its second straight AHSAA Class 5A, Section 3 championship.
The game was an epic struggle from the start as Chelsea took charge early on. Several minutes into the game, Taylor Martindale dribbled through three Sylacauga defenders to get into the Aggie box where he ripped a low shot toward the left side of the goal only to see it go just wide.
A few minutes later, Shelton Smith gathered a ball at the top of the Sylacauga box and struck a left footed shot that clanged off the right post and was cleared safely away by the Aggies.
As the half wore on, Chelsea’s momentum deteriorated and Sylacauga looked to play through balls onto their forwards. Their best chance came with about 10 minutes left in the half when Adolfo Gamino ran onto a through ball and appeared to have a clear path to the goal. However, Chelsea defender Robby Haskins closed down the attack with a fast, skillful slide clearing the ball to safety. The half ended in a scoreless draw.
Early in the second half, Chelsea earned a free kick just outside the right side of Sylcauga’s box. Smith took the left-footed free kick and once again clanged it off the post, this time the left post. Several minutes later, Smith again took a free kick that appeared to have a chance to go into the lower left netting, but Sylacauga keeper Eric Frost made a diving save clearing the ball to safety.
Sylacauga soon found their way to the other end with several corner kick opportunities. The most dangerous chance came when Aggie striker Grant Patton got onto a corner with a dangerous header that sailed just over the Chelsea goal. The final minutes of regulation were a desperate scramble for a likely game-winner that would not come. Regulation ended with a 0-0 draw.
After a five minute break, the teams took the field for overtime with Sylacuaga having the kickoff. When the Aggies played the ball back to its defensive midfielder, Chelsea stirker Eric King ran to him to apply pressure causing the mis-touch by the Aggie player leaving the ball available for an in-charging Taylor Martindale of Chelsea. Martindale played a through ball to King who took several touches forward and finally ripped his game-winner.
The large Chelsea contingent erupted in celebration with the golden goal victory. Chelsea coach Lee Miller said, after getting a water cooler bath from his jubilent players,
“I’m so proud of my team for fighting so hard this season,” said Chelsea coach Lee Miler, who received a water cooler bath from his jubilent players. “I’m especially happy for Eric (King) for having such a great goal to win a championship his senior year.”