Pelham beats John Carroll Catholic in final minute to stay alive in playoffs

By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor

PELHAM – https://twitter.com/PHSVGirlsSoccer/status/591801069535105025

Sports are a funny thing. They have the ability to turn the ordinary into something extraordinary, to turn something mundane into something exciting and fresh. Like a summer storm, greatness can strike at any moment, leaving those lucky enough to witness the moment with a stark reminder why they came. The uncertainty for when those moments may strike is part of the reason that keeps fans coming back. Friday, April 24 at Pelham High School was one such night.

The Pelham boys’ soccer program has been one of the perennial top teams in class 6A all season, and John Carroll Catholic is a historic soccer powerhouse. The Panthers, winners of Area 10, hosted the visiting Cavaliers in the opening round of the 6A state tournament, which turned out to be one of the games of the year. The two teams had played once before this season, on April 7, with that game resulting in a 0-0 tie, this game however was destined for a more memorable ending.

After a scoreless first half, thanks to some impressive keeper play from John Carroll, the second half saw fireworks. With 28:55 left in the game, Javier Pineda ripped one into the John Carroll box. The ball was deflected by a John Carroll player, and ricocheted into the back of the Cavaliers’ net, giving Pelham the slight advantage. The 1-0 score held for the next 25 minutes, before John Carroll responded with a goal of its own with 2:22 remaining to seemingly push the game into extra time.

Pelham, however, had other plans. With under 30 seconds remaining, the Panthers had a corner kick on essentially the last offensive set of regulation. Pineda offered up a beautiful ball from the corner flag, lazily falling over the heads of the John Carroll defenders and onto the forehead of Charles Shearer, who pushed the ball into the upper right section of the goal, past the hands of the John Carroll keeper, and gave Pelham the round one win. The link at the top of this page is video footage taken of the play and posted to the Pelham soccer twitter handle.

It was, “the best game for Pelham so far this season,” head coach Patrick McDonald said afterward.

The second round of the playoffs will be Tuesday, April 28 against Homewood at 7 p.m. at Pelham High School.