Lions take out Hornets in do-or-die match

By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor

NORTH SHELBY – Friday, April 17 determined the fate of two class 6A Area 10 opponents. On a wet, chilly evening, the Chelsea Hornets and the Briarwood Lions took the pitch in an attempt to earn a playoff berth. With the Pelham soccer squad already having wrapped up first place in the area, and therefore a spot in the playoffs, the second seed was still up for grabs. Chelsea and Briarwood both came into the showdown standing at 1-2 in conference play and in need of a result to move on to the state tournament.

Chelsea, a young squad, defeated Pelham on April 14 to give themselves a shot at the second place position, but needed to beat Briarwood in order to do so while Briarwood had defeated Chelsea once before in a nail biter on March 23 by a final of 3-2. On this night, with the season on the line, Briarwood once again answered the call.

After an evenly played first half the scoreboard read 0-0. The game moved into the second half, where Briarwood was able to pull away. A miscue on the Chelsea back line resulted in an own goal by the Hornets, giving Briarwood a 1-0 lead with 15:48 left in the second half. Less than two minutes later, Briarwood’s Andy Ball hammered one past the Chelsea keeper to give the Lions a quick 2-0 advantage. After Chelsea subbed in an extra attacker to try and win a goal back, Ball punched another shot into the back of the Chelsea net, this time with his head via an assist from Kyle Blair, to give the Lions the 3-0 advantage and the win.

“(There was) very good skill and possession from both teams particularly in the wet conditions,” Briarwood head coach Mark Wallace said after the game.”

With the win, Briarwood will move on to the state tournament, and the Hornets will regroup and try again next season.