Pelham girls win thriller to make playoffs, boys finish area play unbeaten

Published 2:52 pm Friday, April 22, 2022

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By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

PELHAM – It was a big night for the Pelham boys and girls soccer teams, in particular the girls, who entered the night needing a win against Calera in a county and area-finale battle on Thursday, April 21.

For the second time this season, the girls game needed penalty kicks to determine a winner, but this time around, Pelham was looking to flip the script after losing the first area game between the two in PKs.

But the Panthers weren’t going to be denied this time around.

After falling into a 2-0 hole in the first half of the game, the Panthers responded in a big way in the second half.

Staring the end of their season in the eyes, they came out and played like the team that started the season 9-1-1.

Determined for it to not be their last game of the season, the Panthers scored their first goal when Taylor Pilcher pitched the ball ahead to Emily Wester for a goal that cut the deficit in half.

Now within one and looking for the equalizer, Wester turned around and picked up an assist after scoring the first goal when she found Valeri Rivas for the game-tying goal in the second half.

That forced overtime, which came and went without a goal, setting up another scoreless overtime.

After the two overtimes went by with the game still tied 2-2, the two teams found themselves in another PK shootout.

This time, however, Pelham was able to capitalize on a hot second half of the game by taking control in penalty kicks.

Pilcher, Maggie Lopez and Valerie Jamison all scored goals in the shootout, while Sydney Stephenson closed out an impressive game, shutting down the Eagles in the second half, both overtimes and PKs to help lift the Panthers to the playoff-clinching win.

As for the boys, they were able to cap off a perfect 6-0 record in area play against the Eagles.

After locking up the area championship a week earlier, the Panthers entered the game hoping to finish off another perfect season in the area, while Calera needed a win to make the playoffs.

Pelham, however, continued a dominant defensive season.

Entering the matchup, the Panthers had given up one goal or less in all but two games this season and were fresh off four consecutive shutouts.

That defensive approach continued against Calera, as Pelham put together its fifth consecutive shutout in a 1-0 victory to improve to 17-3-1 overall and 6-0 in the area.

Offensively, Pelham got a goal from Alejandro Hernandez that became the game-winning goal, while Marvin Ornelas-Avalos assisted on the goal.

The Panthers are currently No. 3 in the 6A rankings with the playoffs on the horizon.