Columbia County’s boys and girls soccer seasons in Region 2A-AAAAA will come down to the final region game of the year on Tuesday, April 2.
The Greenbrier Lady Wolfpack (4-4-2, 4-1 Region 2A-AAAAA) had an opportunity to clinch the subregion with a win Tuesday night, but lost 1-0 by Lady Panthers (8-1-1, 4-1) who forced a tie for first. In the boys game, the Panthers beat the Wolfpack 3-2, but the Wolfpack owns all the tiebreakers and were still able to clinch the subregion.
Both the Lady Panthers and Lady Wolfpack have sewn up home games for the first round of the upcoming region tournament.
“It’s a pretty good feeling, especially from last year when we spent the whole region play driving the road,” said Lady Panthers head coach Nick Edmonds. “It’s nice to know you’ll play at least the first or second round of the region tournament at home.”
For the boys, Tuesday night’s win over the Wolfpack gives the Panthers (9-2, 3-2) a shot at second place in the subregion entering its game Tuesday, April 2, with Evans.
The loss to the Panthers gave the Wolfpack (7-2-2, 4-1) their first losing streak in two seasons.
Following the depletion of their roster with 18 players booted off the team for disciplinary reasons, the Wolfpack had seven varsity players available Tuesday. They will be down one more for the final two games of the regular season as senior Michael Harris received a red card with 1:05 left in Tuesday’s contest.
“We had to put them in the fire last Saturday, and they got a little experience playing a really good team then,” Warren said of the players called up from junior varsity. “They came up big on the big stage tonight as well.”
The match was scoreless at the half before the teams combined for five second-half goals.
“I wasn’t very happy with our intensity today,” said Panthers head coach Dave Morgan. “I knew Greenbrier was having a real emotional week and everything, and they would come out to play and they have plenty of good soccer players over there... We picked that (intensity) up in the second half and that helped.”
Eric Older broke a scoreless tie with a low liner to the left corner from 18 yards out, driving the ball around a Wolfpack wall on a free kick with 32:33 to play. After Harris tied the game on a penalty kick six minutes later, Older put the Panthers back on top as he beat two defenders in the middle of the field and blasted it past the Wolfpack’s keeper from 15 yards.
“It was a little bit of luck but it was a solid strike,” said Older. “That was not accidental, I meant to do that,” he said of his first goal.
Lakeside’s Ben Tran scored with 14 minutes left to make it 3-1, but Logan Tihey got the Pack to within 3-2 with 11:12 to go.
In the girls’ game, Lakeside’s Cassandra Wade would not be denied a second time.
After passing defenders and beating the goalie to the ball, Wade dribbled in a few feet and calmly put the ball in the net with 20:50 left to give the Lady Panthers the lone goal of the game.
The goal came two minutes after Wade’s first golden opportunity, a mirror image play except that the Lady Wolfpack’s Charlotte Rindt was able to clear the ball from the goal at the last instant.
“Missing the first shot gave me the emotion I needed to get the goal for my team,” Wade said.
The first half was mostly a defensive struggle, although the Lady Pack kept the pressure on Lakeside goalie Rachel Hardin, who had nine saves, finishing with 15 for the game.
“I thought we played well at times,” said Lady Wolfpack head coach Wes Kendrick. “The same thing I told the girls, those good chances, we’ve got to capitalize on them.”