Pelham boys fall to Cullman, girls beat Lincoln

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

The Pelham girls’ soccer team is in the midst of a very strong start to the 2018 soccer season, while the boys are off to a strong start as well looking to defend their first-ever state championship in 2017.

Both teams found themselves in difficult battles on Tuesday night, Feb. 27, as the girls hit the road to take on Lincoln, while the boys played host to a top-four battle against Cullman.

With the Pelham boys sitting at No. 3 in the 6A standings and the Cullman boys at No. 4, the two teams continued their string of impressive meetings.

In 2016, Cullman defeated Pelham in the Final Four and went on to win the state championship, but in 2017, the Panthers got the ultimate redemption when they beat the Bearcats 2-0 in the state championship to bring home the school’s first-ever state title.

On Tuesday, the stakes weren’t quite as high, but for a regular-season matchup, they don’t get much better as Cullman was looking for its redemption and Pelham wanted to stay on top.

It was obvious how badly each team wanted to win the game by the energy they exerted on the defensive side of the ball.

Despite the great defensive play, both teams had plenty of chances to score in the opening period, but they all went awry thanks to great goalkeeping and some shots that were just off the mark, which led to a scoreless first half.

It took just 10 minutes into the second half for that scoreless tie to change as Cullman’s Washington Sheffield beat the Pelham defense and was able to fire a shot off the far post that ricocheted into the goal for the 1-0 lead in the 50th minute.

The Panthers came close to tying the game on several occasions as Miguel Trejo and Irvin Rodriguez each hit the post with a shot, but luck wasn’t on Pelham’s side as neither shot could find the back of the net.

With those two shots not finding their way in, the Bearcats were able to hand on for the 1-0 win, while Pelham fell to 4-2-1 on the season. David Clinton had five saves in goal for the Panthers.

The varsity girls were off to a strong start in 2018, winning their first five games of the season before Mortimer Jordan ended that win streak on Saturday, Feb. 24, by taking down the Panthers 1-0.

On Tuesday night, Pelham was looking to rebound and they did just that with a 3-0 win over Lincoln High School to kick off a five-game road trip.

The Panthers struck early in the contest after stringing together several nice passes that led to a goal just eight minutes in to shake off all of the dust from the loss on Saturday.

It only took 12 more minutes for Pelham to strike again as the Panthers connected on a shot from 35 yards out to take a 2-0 lead with 20 minutes left in the opening half.

With the defense playing stout, that was a lead that not only held up at halftime, but for the remainder of the game.

Lincoln did come out with a little extra energy and effort in the second half as they looked to pull off a comeback, but the Panthers were too solid all night and added an insurance goal early in the second half as they converted on a penalty kick just seven minutes into the period.

With the way the defense was playing, that was more than enough for the Panthers as they went on to complete the shutout for a 3-0 win. They now sit at 6-1 on the season.