Chelsea beats Spain Park in overtime to earn playoff spot

Published 6:58 am Wednesday, April 26, 2023

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By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

HOOVER – With their season hanging in the balance on Tuesday night, April 25, the Chelsea boys soccer team faced a series of challenges that culminated their 2023 season as they looked to punch a ticket to the playoffs against area foe Spain Park.

The Hornets, however, persevered through a late game-tying goal from the Jags and playing a man down late in the contest to picking up a game-winning goal late in overtime to pick up a 2-1 win and a trip to the playoffs in Class 7A during their first year in the classification.

For a while, it looked as if Chelsea was going to hold on for a 1-0 win after taking that lead into the half and holding it for much of the second half.

The Hornets scored that first goal quickly in the first 15 minutes of the game after Luke Miller was perfectly position for a put back after Kaleb Bass hit the post on a shot just before.

That gave the Hornets a 1-0 advantage, as they allowed their defense to do work from there.

Bringing that one-goal advantage into the second half, both teams came out with similar aggression, as Chelsea looked for an insurance goal with their playoff hopes on the line and Spain Park hoped for the equalizer to try and pull off a comeback win in their final game of the season.

Both teams ended up with their share of chances, and Chelsea even earned a penalty kick that just sailed over the goal post, while the Jags made another important save shortly after to prevent the Hornets from taking a 2-0 lead midway through the period.

Spain Park eventually capitalized on those missed opportunities when Chelsea picked up back-to-back penalties in the final 10 minutes of action.

Brock Marlow saved the first one, but a second penalty led to another opportunity for the Jags, and they made this one count with an equalizer to make it 1-1 with less than 10 minutes to play.

Shortly after that, Chelsea was forced to play a man down, but going into overtime, the Hornets didn’t let that affect them.

Instead, nearing the end of the first overtime period, Bass got his second chance.

After hitting the post earlier in the game, he got a look late in overtime and didn’t miss this time around, sending a ball carrying the weight of Chelsea’s playoff hopes into the back of the net for a 2-1 win.

The Hornets will now travel to take on Hoover in the opening round of the playoffs after a 16-6-2 regular season, making the playoffs with a 3-3 area record during their first year in Class 7A.