Pelham wins battle with Indian Springs to claim 3rd straight area championship
Published 1:21 am Saturday, April 22, 2023
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor
NORTH SHELBY – In a nail biter that went down to the final minute, the Pelham Panthers were able to finish off an area championship on Friday, April 21 in a one-goal win over Indian Springs.
The Panthers built a 3-0 lead, but they were forced to hold on after Indian Springs made a mad dash to the finish line that ultimately fell just short of a comeback with Pelham picking up a 3-2 victory.
With the win, the Panthers finished area play 5-1 overall to earn the area championship, which gives them a home playoff game in the opening round of the postseason.
A team that can win defensively, Pelham looked like a team on a mission offensively for much of the night, controlling the ball early and often, especially in the opening half of the game.
It led to several opportunities, and the constant pressure finally paid off late in the first half when Radi Richardson continued a strong stretch of play by scoring with 12:20 left in the period.
That ultimately became the halftime score, as the Panthers took a 1-0 lead into the break.
Still, they weren’t ready to solely rely on their defense against a talented Indian Springs team, and they kept the pressure coming in the first 20 minutes of the second half.
One minute into the frame, Matthew Chaux-Alvarez added to Pelham’s lead with his lone goal of the night to put the Panthers in front 2-0.
Then, 18 minutes later, Lucas Stokes got in on the action with a goal of his own to build up a three-goal advantage for a team that had given up more than two goals only four times in 22 games.
Indian Springs, however, didn’t roll over. They responded with a sense of urgency late in the game, which led to multiple opportunities down the stretch.
They ultimately earned two late free kicks in the final 15 minutes of the game, and they capitalized on both with goals to trim the deficit to 3-2.
But it was too little too late for the home team, as Pelham fended off the late comeback attempt for the one-goal victory to claim the area championship.
Pelham ultimately finished the regular season 16-5-2 overall on the season ahead of the playoffs.