Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

Local Sports

April 11, 2012

Southland soccer comes up just short of upset

AMERICUS — The Southland Academy Lady Raiders were coming off their Spring Break on Tuesday when they took on the Tiftarea Panthers in a Region 3-AAA soccer match. The Lady Raiders started sluggish in the first half, and time expired on their furious comeback attempt in the second half, allowing the Panthers to escape Americus with a big region win.

Tiftarea got the first score of the evening on a corner kick early in the game. The Lady Raiders came back to score, however as Ella Hawkins kicked a perfectly placed lob shot just over the reach of the Lady Panthers’ keeper’s outstretched arms to make it 1-1.

The Lady Panthers would go on a tear, however, throughout the remainder of the half as they kept the ball on Southland’s side of the field for most of the first half. By the time the halftime break was called, the Lady Panthers had added two more goals to stretch their lead to 3-1.

“We knew that it was going to be a challenge to come out after spring break and play a region opponent,” said Lady Raiders’ head coach Michael Pepito.

 “Our girls were a little sloppy in the first half, but they came out blistering in the second half,” he added.

The Lady Raiders scored a goal early in the second half, but the Lady Panthers answered with two goals of their own to stretch the lead to 5-2.

At this point, the Lady Raiders buckled down, determined the claw their way back into the game.

The Lady Raiders got two more goals from Ella Hawkins in the final half, giving her four goals on the night.

In the final moments of the game, sophomore Abby Harrod dumped a ball to Ella Hawkins, who took the pass and broke through the Lady Panther’s defense.

As Hawkins was breaking towards the Lady Panther’s goal in an attempt to tie the game, the referee’s whistle blew, signifying the end of the game.

It was a heartbreaking loss for the Lady Raiders who were mere seconds away from possibly tying the game. Still, the Lady Raiders played an amazing game, and the fans showed their support of the team’s valiant effort in the game with a standing ovation at the conclusion of the contest.

“Our girl’s played very well, and the fans were all standing and clapping at the end of the game,” said coach Pepito.

Harrod, Quinn Hanson, and Lyndsey Alston all had an assist to set up Ella to score. Jessica Paige had 18 saves in the net for the Lady Raiders, as the Lady Panthers managed to get 23 shots on goal.

The Lady Raiders were only able to force eight shots on goal, but they scored on half of the shots that they took.

The Lady Raiders will return to their home-field at 6:30 today to take on region 3-AAA foe Sherwood Christian Academy.

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