Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

Local Sports

May 8, 2014

Panthers win first playoff game in school history, fall to Spalding in second round

GRIFFIN — Americus-Sumter’s boys’ soccer team made history on Saturday by winning their first playoff match in school history. Thanks to a strong defensive performance, the Panthers were able to take South Effingham High School into a shoot-out for the win, and with a trip to the quarterfinals on the line senior Carl Johnson made sure that he left a lasting legacy on the program by sending the game-winning shot into the back of the Mustangs net.

Americus-Sumter, the number two seed from Region 1-AAAA, earned the right to host the first round of the state playoffs against number three seed South Effingham. As the teams were warming up for the opening round contest, it was clear that the Panthers were pumped up and ready to play. Early in the game, Tye Skala turned Americus-Sumter’s adrenaline into momentum by scoring the game’s first goal after escaping behind the defense and sinking a precision shot past Mustang keeper Billy Heister to put his team up 1-0.

The rest of the first half saw a defensive struggle with each team collecting a few shots on goal that were denied by the opposing keeper. Jorge Carrion made several highlight-worth stops in the net for the Panthers in the opening half of play, and at the end of one half the home team held tight to their 1-0 lead.

The Mustangs started the second half on a roll, keeping the ball on the Panthers’ side of the field for most of the opening 10 minutes of the final regulation period. The Mustangs finally saw their persistence pay off as James Coon snuck past the Panther defense and received a pass, which he sent past Carrion to tie the match up 1-1.

Americus-Sumter found their rhythm on offense in the middle of the second half, forcing several shots on goal. Jonathon Arbaca had three near misses in a row, two of which came off of free kicks by his teammates. Heister continued to play a tremendous game in net for the Mustangs, and as the final minute approached a huge play by a Panther senior saved the day for Americus-Sumter.

Following a free kick by South Effingham, the ball bounced over Carrion’s head straight towards the Panthers goal. It was then a foot race between a Mustang forward and Johnson for Americus-Sumter. With nothing but net ahead of them, Johnson narrowly won the race and pulled off an acrobatic clear-out to preserve the tie at 1-1.

Johnson’s huge save sent the game into overtime, and following two scoreless five minute overtime periods the game advanced to a shoot-out to decide the victor. After dropping their regular season finale to Westover on a PK shoot-out, the Panthers were not going to let the results be the same in this decisive challenge.

As evenly as the two teams were matched, it was no surprise that the game came all the way down to the fifth and final shooter for Americus-Sumter. With each goalie making three tremendous saves and allowing just one goal, the shoot-out was tied 1-1 after four shooters were down. Carrion then rejected South Effingham’s fifth shot at the goal, putting the entire game on Johnson’s shoulders. As the last shooter, the senior showed why he has been such a huge part of the success of the Panther program over the past four years by sending an untouched shot into the net for what would equate to a walk-off home run in baseball. Johnson’s shot gave the Panthers a 2-1 victory, and a ticket to the second round of the playoffs.

Johnson said that as he lined up for the final shot, he was thinking about his teammates and all of the hard work that they put in to be in that position, with the game on the line.

“It’s been four years and we’ve always come real close in the final minutes and in our final game, but we never were able to put it away,” he said. “Just to know that my team was counting on me to make it and go to the second round of the state playoffs and make history, it’s just incredible.”

Johnson said that Americus-Sumter head coach Greg Fowler had the Panthers prepared to succeed in that situation.

“We were prepared for that. We have PK shoot-outs where the whole team goes through and take PKs on our keeper. We have a heck of a keeper, Jorge, that made four great stops for us, and we just did it!”

Fowler echoed the statement that Johnson made about Carrion when asked what the biggest key to the game was for the Panthers.

“I’m going to go right back to Jorge,” he said. “He played so awesome in goal that it was just unbelievable.”

Following the dramatic, history-making in on Saturday, the Panthers had a quick turn-around prior to their second game on Tuesday. Facing the number one seed from Region 4-AAAA, Americus-Sumter was forced to hit the road and travel to Griffin to take on Spalding County. Despite a late comeback attempt in the second half, Americus-Sumter came up just short, ending their playoff run and their 2014 season.

Spalding went up 1-0 in the first half, and early in the second half they scored another goal to take a 2-0 lead. According to Fowler, the Panthers didn’t quit though, and with improved passing and movement they were able to cut the deficit in half with an answering goal.

Arbaca scored the first goal of the game for the Panthers on an assist from Johnson, but Spalding was able to score again to make the score 3-1. Americus-Sumter did not give up, and a few minutes later Tylen Pepito sent a shot into the net after an assist from Skala. Although they got several shots on net and even hit the frame a few times, Americus-Sumter could not get another shot to find the net, and with Spalding County scoring a goal with three seconds to go the game ended in a 4-2 Panther loss.

“We played incredibly hard every minute of that game,” Fowler said. “Before the playoff game I told them to make sure to leave no regrets on that field, and I don't believe any of them did. I was extremely proud of them. We are an excellent team, and the first Americus-Sumter soccer team to win in the state playoffs.”

The Panthers finish the season with a 9-8-2 overall record. The 2014 team will go down in the history books as the first Americus-Sumter soccer team to win a state playoff game, and they also claimed the runner-up spot in Region 1-AAAA.

Text Only
Local Sports
  • Souhtland XC State Champs web.jpg Three Southland coaches receive Coach of the Year honors

    Last year Southland Academy’s athletic program soared to new heights. Two state championships, several region championships, and many trips deep into the state playoffs marked a banner year for several Raider teams. Recently, three of Southland’s coaches were recognized by the GISA for their hard work and dedication to lead their programs to the state title.

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Americus Travelers finish in top 3 at USSSA World Series

    The Americus Travelers 14U Baseball Club, after a stellar season on the baseball diamond, again peaked at the right time; finishing as the number three team at the USSSA Global Sports Baseball World Series in Orange Beach, Ala. last week. Coach Tim Estes’ squad entered the event with a record of 23–9 -1 on the season, and there were 35 teams from eight states competing for the title of World Series Champion.

    July 18, 2014

  • SAR football help flags.jpg Raiders lend a hand at Andersonville NHS

    The Avenue of Flags flies in Andersonville National Historic Site five times per year during days of special significance. Following the end of the Independence Day holiday, the Southland Academy football team took a break from their summer workouts to help take down the 200+ flags on Monday, July 7.

    July 11, 2014 2 Photos

  • Frey_Conyers_Balleur-7-14.jpg SGTC names new athletic director and assistant basketball coaches

    South Georgia Technical College Lady Jets head basketball coach James Frey has been named Athletic Director for the college effective July 1, 2014, announced South Georgia Technical College President Sparky Reeves. Frey will continue to serve as the Lady Jets head basketball coach, as well as work as a Recreation and Leisure Management instructor. Reeves also announced that Kezia Conyers and Chris Ballauer have been hired as full-time instructors and assistant basketball coaches for the Lady Jets and Jets.

    July 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • 8U Champs.jpg Recreation all-star teams perform well in district tournaments, two qualify for state

    The Sumter County Parks and Recreation Department (SCPRD) has one of the strongest youth baseball programs in the state, and they will have a chance to prove it in the upcoming Georgia Recreation and Park Association (GRPA) state tournaments beginning on July 9.

    July 3, 2014 2 Photos

  • SCPRD Softball allstars.jpg SCPRD sees great success in first year of youth softball league

    The Sumter County Parks and Recreation Department (SCPRD) hosted a youth softball division for the first time this year, and according to SCPRD executive director Tim Estes, it was a roaring success.

    July 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Josh Willis Sholarship receip 14.jpg Eight Panthers awarded Josh Willis Memorial Scholarships

    Last Friday, eight Americus-Sumter senior student athletes received scholarships in honor for former Americus-Sumter and University of Georgia standout football player Josh Willis. The memorial scholarships will help each of the student-athletes achieve their dream of attending college to further their education.

    July 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Snow SOCC picture.jpg Georgia Southwestern’s Snow pegged as profession's next generation through NSCAA 30 Under 30 Program

    Georgia Southwestern head women's soccer coach Samantha Snow is one of only 15 female soccer coaches in the country selected by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) to participate in the organization's 30 Under 30 program.

    June 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Post-Epping - Star Racing - Chaz Kennedy.jpg Star Racing looking for win lights at Chicago race

    The Star Racing team began their three-race back-to-back stretch in the 2014 National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Mello Yello Series this past weekend June 20-22 at the 2nd Annual Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway in Epping, N.H.

    June 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • EWard.jpg GSW softball adds nine to 2015 roster

    Georgia Southwestern head softball coach Eddie Ward has announced his 2014 recruiting class. The Lady Hurricanes will add nine new faces to their roster for the 2015 season. The list of signees includes seven true freshmen and two players with previous collegiate softball experience.

    June 26, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar