The Columbia County Fireballs captured the Division A Georgia State Wheelchair Soccer Championship with two tournament victories on Nov. 17 at Cross Creek High School.
The Fireballs clinched the title with an 11-10 win over the defending champion West Georgia Wolverines. The championship gave the Fireballs their first-ever soccer title; the team previously had claimed basketball crowns in 1999 and 2000 while competing in American Association of Adapted Sports Programs (AAASP) events.
"This is the third year in a row that we've been in the state soccer tournament, but the first time we've won," Columbia Fireballs coach Joni Lawton said. "Our team is so much younger and so much smaller than the others. The whole key to the victory was our kids play as one. There are no jealousies or rivalries. These kids are just amazing to me."
The Fireballs opened the tournament with an 11-6 win over Clayton County, which was the first time Columbia had ever defeated Clayton. Israel Schulz led the way with 11 goals, Ryan Peck contributed an assist, and goalkeeper Matt Miklas had 13 saves.
In the championship game against West Georgia, Israel added 11 more goals to pace the Fireballs to the title. Ryan notched another assist, and Matt racked up 14 more saves, including a stop in the final minutes to preserve the title.
"We come to play and we come to win; so far we've been able to do pretty good at that," Lawton said. "I can't say enough about them as a team or their personalities. I couldn't find 12 kids like these anywhere."
Team members of the Columbia Fireballs are: Israel Schulz (Lakeside High); Lauren Giles (Lakeside High); Kurt Lawton (Greenbrier Middle); Ryan Peck (Riverside Middle); Matt Miklas (Riverside Middle); Tony Canell (Lakeside Middle); Myron McKenzie (Martinez Elementary); Corbin McKenzie (Martinez Elementary); Nick Canell (Blue Ridge Elementary); Todd Goldberg (Martinez Elementary); Keith Goldberg (Martinez Elementary); and, Kelly Butcher (Greenbrier High). The coaches are Joni Lawton, Jane Brewster and Brewtie Lawton.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.