Pelham boys and girls advance to 2nd round of playoffs
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor
PELHAM – The Pelham Panthers saw a welcome sight on Thursday night, April 22, when the 2021 AHSAA Class 6A soccer playoffs began.
Not only were the boys playing another home playoff game to kick off the postseason, but school history was made for the girls, who not only played in their first playoff game but won their first playoff game.
Both teams played host to Wetumpka in the first round looking to advance in the postseason and both did just that.
The boys took down the Indians 3-1, while the girls continued an unbeaten season with a 3-0 shutout.
The girls, who are now 17-0-1, got their night started with strong play from Margarita Lopez, who scored in the first 15 minutes of both halves.
She gave Pelham a 1-0 lead at the 25:05 mark of the opening half, which already put the Panthers in good shape after pitching 14 shutouts in 17 games coming into the matchup.
The defense had also given up no more than one goal in any match this season, and they continued to play well in this one.
The Panthers never flinched in the first half, and while Lopez’s goal became the lone one of the first 40 minutes, it was enough to give Pelham a 1-0 lead at the break.
But Lopez wasn’t done.
In eerily similar fashion, she scored her second goal of the night at almost the exact same point in the second half to give Pelham a 2-0 lead with 25:04 to play.
Then, two minutes later, teammate Kori Ingram hit a bullet from just outside the box that the keeper had no chance to save.
All of a sudden Pelham was up 3-0 with 23:48 to play. With one of the best defenses in the state, that flurry of scoring became too much for the Indians to overcome as the Panthers completed the 3-0 shutout for their first playoff win.
The girls will now take on Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa on the road on April 27 at 5:30 looking to advance to the quarterfinals.
The boys had a similar showing thanks to stellar play from Miguel Obando.
After a scoreless first 10 minutes, Obando scored two goals within four minutes to give Pelham a 2-0 lead with 25:37 to play in the opening half.
That was part of a furious start from the Panthers, who got a third goal in the half from Marin Ornalas with 15:39 to play.
That became more than enough to pick up the win, as Pelham’s defense continued a 10-game stretch of giving up two goals or less. The Panthers allowed just one to get through with 9:56 left in the opening half, but locked down after that and went on to pick up the 3-1 victory.
Pelham has now won eight in a row and nine of 10 with the other being a tie with No. 1 Homewood, making the Panthers one of the hottest teams in Class 6A.
Pelham will now host McAdory on April 27 at 7 p.m. looking to advance to the quarterfinals of the playoffs.
Photos available at Shelbycountyphotos.com.
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