Pelham overcomes late Briarwood equalizer to win in ninth round of shootout

Published 4:30 pm Thursday, April 4, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

NORTH SHELBY – After being in front for much of the second half, the No. 3 Pelham Panthers suddenly found themselves on their heels as the No. 9 Briarwood Christian Lions equalized with 90 seconds left in their area match on Wednesday, April 3.

With the Lions energized by the home Briarwood Christian School crowd, the Panthers overcame the pressure to survive overtime and a nine-round shootout to win the shootout 7-6 after a 1-1 draw in regulation.

The win extended Pelham’s unbeaten streak to five matches as it improved to 2-1 in area play and 12-3-3 overall.

With the wind blowing strongly in their favor to start the match, the Panthers fired off two shots in the first five minutes, including one to the middle of the goal that forced a save from Briarwood keeper Emerson Maughan.

Despite the wind, the Lions made progress into the attacking third, including a run in the 10th minute that drew Pelham keeper Raul Jacobo out of his goal to dive on the ball and negate the threat.

Much of the half was contested in midfield as the area foes remained locked in a stalemate. Without many threatening chances for the rest of the half, the game went to halftime in a scoreless tie.

The Panthers came out firing in the second half as Johan Favero forced a save in the bottom right corner in the 41st minute. Four minutes later, a Pelham cross across goal led to a drawn-out possession that ended with a long shot by Anzel Santos that went just over the goal.

Briarwood nearly had a chance in front of goal in the 54th minute, but Jacobo and the Lions attacker collided at the end of the cross.

Less than 10 minutes later in the 63rd minute, Pelham broke the deadlock. Matthew Chaux got a golden opportunity close to the goal and headed the ball just into the goal to put the Panthers up 1-0.

However, Briarwood pressed the attack for the next 15 minutes, testing the Pelham back line. Thomas Lanier’s header went over the goal in the 75th minute as the pressure intensified.

Then, in the 79th minute, Jacobo saved a Lions shot and it went out for a corner kick.

Once the Lions took the corner, Cam Harrington went up for the ball with Jacobo and the junior defender won the battle, heading the ball into the goal to tie the match with 90 seconds left.

That goal sent the teams to overtime tied up at 1-1 with the area contest hanging in the balance.

The extra periods saw a slight amount of action, including a Lanier shot in the 73rd minute that was saved in addition to a pair of Briarwood corners plus a Pelham breakaway with three minutes to go that was cleared away.

With the match still tied at the end of the 90 minutes, the Lions and Panthers went to a penalty shootout to decide the result.

In the first round, Briarwood’s Brock Shields sent his shot to the top of the goal to ricochet in for the goal, but Pelham’s Jair Camargo responded with a goal after choosing the right side.

Reece Frost curled in a shot to the left of the goal for the Lions’ second attempt, and Maughn preserved that 2-1 lead by making a diving save.

Lanier faked out Jacobo with a shot to the bottom left corner to put the Lions up 3-1, but Chaux hit a laser to the left side of the goal to make the score 3-2.

That goal proved crucial as Briarwood missed its next penalty and Anzel Santos knotted the score up at 3-3 shortly after.

Carson Tucker made his penalty with ease, putting pressure on Pelham in its fifth and final scheduled attempt. However, Jake Garner stepped up to the challenge and hit a shot in the middle of the goal to tie the shootout at 4-4 and force sudden death.

The Lions missed their first penalty of sudden death to give the Panthers an opportunity, but Maughan came up with a big save to keep the game alive.

Briarwood then sent Maughn to the spot for the seventh round, and the keeper hit a perfect top shelf shot to score the goal. Favero answered with a goal to send the game to an eighth round.

After scoring earlier in the match, Harrington converted a penalty for another goal on the day, but Juan Bravo equalized to tie the shootout at 6-6.

However, the Panthers got another opening to win as the ninth Lions penalty attempt hit the crossbar and was saved by Jacobo.

With the match on the line, Sebastian Vences came up clutch with a shot to the upper middle of the goal, scoring the game-winning penalty as he ran straight to his teammates to celebrate the victory.

Pelham will have another tough area test in its next match against Indian Springs in a road matchup on Friday, April 5 at 7 p.m.

As for Briarwood, it will travel to Helena for an area match at the same time.