Pelham shuts out Helena to take regular season area title
By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer
PELHAM–Determining the Class 6A Area 7 regular season champion came down to two rivals facing off on Tuesday, April 18, and the match lived up to the expectations as Pelham narrowly edged Helena 1-0 to take the first place title.
Helena entered the game with a 2-1 area record, while Pelham boasted a 3-0 record. This meant the final regular season area game was crucial for playoff positioning.
In the first half, neither team could find the back of the net. Pelham possessed the ball for the majority of the first half but Huskies’ goalkeeper Cameron Beery kept the Panthers off the scoreboard as the game went into half knotted at zero.
Three minutes into the second half, Pelham recorded the one and only goal of the match after Jose Jimenez scored an unassisted goal. Jimenez intended to pass the ball to Kevin Rodriguez, but the ball instead deflected off a Helena player and Jimenez buried it in the back of the net.
“It was low scoring, and I would expect the same result if we played three or four times just because how much was on the line and you’re talking about an area championship for the winner,” Pelham head coach Patrick McDonald said. “Both teams already know they’re in the playoffs so Helena and Pelham are both just posturing for a position here. Helena played very well and held possession against us the first half. I think our kids were taken aback by that based on how we played the first time. I have to give coach Morgan a lot of props for having his kids ready to play but we were able to finally find the back of the net. It seemed like once that first goal went in, the kids kind of relaxed a little more.”
Helena came ever so close to tying the game as a few shots on goal narrowly missed after hitting the post, but in the end, Pelham held on and completed the undefeated season in area play.
Pelham goalkeeper Seth Torman had seven saves in the win.
When asked about going undefeated in the three-team area, McDonald credited his team’s dedication.
“Having Chelsea, and you’re talking about defending champions in 4A-5A in Helena and then we were a final four team last year, that is a very competitive group,” McDonald said. “These games are very stress-filled for not only the players, but the coaches alike because kids have off games and injuries during the course of the season. You play 18 games but only four of them really dictate playoff positioning so for your kids to go out and play in four games and be undefeated is a testament to how much dedication they put into it.”
Pelham will now host John Carroll on Friday, April 21 at 7 p.m. in the first round of the playoffs.