Pelham downs defending state champion Homewood with first half goal

Published 12:22 pm Tuesday, March 5, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

PELHAM – The Pelham Panthers have had an impressive start to the 2024 season, but their resume lacked one thing: a win over a top-two team in the boys soccer coaches rankings.

That changed on Friday, March 1 as the Panthers took on the No. 2 Homewood Patriots, and No. 3 Pelham rose to the challenge with a 1-0 victory in front of their fans at Pelham High School.

The Panthers were undefeated in four straight matches coming into their showdown with the Patriots after beating Benjamin Russell, Pinson Valley and Brookwood and earning a 1-1 draw in a windy match against Northridge.

In those three wins, the Pelham offense kicked into overdrive with at least five goals scored in each of those victories.

The Panthers also hadn’t lost to an opponent from Class 6A or below, but that would be put to the test against a formidable Homewood side which won the 6A state championship in 2023.

While the calendar has since turned to 2024, the Patriots had barely lost a step as they won their first seven matches and only lost at the hands of Oak Mountain, the undefeated No. 1 team in Class 7A.

That set the stage for a massive top-three showdown on Pelham’s home field.

In the first 40 minutes of play, the Panthers found a way to crack a Homewood defense that only gave up five goals all season entering the match and got on the board.

Pelham scored the opening goal of the game in the first half and held a 1-0 lead at halftime.

Throughout the game, the Panthers defense stopped the potent Patriots attack and kept a clean sheet.

That secured the 1-0 win for Pelham over Homewood as the hosts picked up a victory over one of the best teams in the state.

Despite the win, the Panthers remained at No. 3 below the Patriots at No. 2 in the coaches rankings but nonetheless gained valuable momentum ahead of the start of area play on March 8.

Before then, Pelham will face Tuscaloosa County at home on Tuesday, March 5 at 7 p.m.