Hornets fall to Pinson Valley in quarterfinal match


The Chelsea High School boys’ soccer team fell to Pinson Valley 3-2 in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 5A quarterfinals May 5. It took two overtimes and ultimately, a penalty kick shootout to decide the match.

As expected, the game was hard fought on both sides with physical play all around. The best opportunities at goal in the first half were on set pieces. Sam Shaw and Aaron Neely of Pinson had several open headers off corner kicks that were either saved or sailed wide of goal. The same was true for Eric King of Chelsea. Chelsea also had a few dangerous looks from free kicks, especially from goalkeeper Josh Carpenter, who would come all the way to midfield to take them. The defenses won the first half, however, and the score was 0-0 at the break.

The second half saw even more physical play from both sides as the intensity increased. Chelsea finally took advantage as Carpenter took a long free kick which came to midfielder Josh Bartlett, who volleyed the ball from 25 yards out into the right upper 90 to give Chelsea a dazzling 1-0 lead with 25 minutes to pay.

However, with just under 15 minutes to play, Pinson’s star midfielder Aaron Neely gathered the ball on the left wing and raced down the sideline. When he reached the Chelsea box, Chelsea defender Jacob Brooks hit the ball, but it deflected back off Neely’s shins and Neely abruptly stuck it past the diving Carpenter. Pinson had leveled the score at 1-1.

The final 14 minutes were both intense and grueling as both teams had players cramping and having to come out of the game. Finally, the final whistle blew, and the game headed to overtime.

In the first overtime period, Chelsea took charge, reeling off three shots in the first minute and winning two corner kicks. Yet, the elusive game-winner would not come for either team in either of the two overtime periods, so all that remained was a penalty kick shootout.

Pinson’s Alfredo Bustillos and Giovanni Molina scored their kicks as did Chelsea’s Will Bevill and Jacob Brooks. Then Aaron Neely hit a rocket of a shot that Carpenter reached, but the deflection went up into the top netting, giving Pinson the 3-2 advantage. Chelsea’ next kicker was Shelton Smith, who struck a left-footer toward the left side of goal, but the shot deflected off the post which left the score 3-2 for Pinson. Pinson’s Hunter Middleton then scored the next one whcih set up a chance to end it for Pinson. However, Chelsea’s Cody Hood drilled his shot, keeping hope alive for Chelsea.

However, Pinson’s Ramone Bustillos had the final Pinson shot with a chance to lift his team to the Final Four, and he delivered a beautiful shot to the left upper 90, and Pinson celebrated the win.

“It is a beautiful and cruel game,” said Chelsea coach Lee Miller. “I’m so proud of my guys. We started the season with 3 returning starters from last year’s Final Four team, and we were inches from making it back. These players worked extremely hard and really stepped up to have a fantastic season.”

Chelsea finished the year 14-7-2 while capturing their second straight 5A Section 3 Championship.