PREP SOCCER: Coosa boys come up short in Sweet 16; Rome moves on to Elite Eight
The Coosa boys’ soccer team had lofty goals going into the postseason, but the Eagles’ plans on a deep playoff run were halted at the hands of Putnam County.
Coosa was ousted from the GHSA Class AA state playoffs Thursday after a 2-1 loss to the visiting War Eagles in the second round at Branch Bragg Field.
It was a tough night for Region 7-AA teams as Armuchee fell to Bremen and Gordon Central lost to Union County. In the Class 5A playoffs, Rome High came away with a win on the road against Clarkston in the Wolves’ second upset of the playoffs.
Coosa, which spent most of the season as the top-ranked Class AA team in the state by Eurosportscoreboard.com, had hopes of playing for a state championship, but a tough Putnam County team overcame an early Eagles lead and managed to hold on.
“We didn’t quit, but those things happen,” Coosa head coach Ricky Medlock said. “I just appreciate the seniors and the effort they gave. We’re a young team, so for us to do what we did is unbelievable. We didn’t reach our goal, but you don’t always reach your goals, especially when you shoot for the top.”
Coosa (16-2-1) jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead in the second minute when Nohel Paz-Calderon scored off an assist by Jorge Lopez. Coosa was able to take the slim lead into halftime, but emotions ran high on both sides of the field in the second half.
“Today we played a very good team,” Medlock said. “I’ve watched them play. They put it down and pass the ball around, and so do we. But that’s not what you saw out here today. You saw two teams with enthusiasm playing as hard as they can, but they didn’t play very smart.
“We didn’t ever settle down and get in a groove and do the things we do. Part of that was (Putnam), and part of it was we were just so pumped from the game we couldn’t ever settle down and just start playing.”
For a team that started the season with 10 straight shutouts, the Eagles relied heavily on their defense against Putnam County, with goalkeeper Gavin Hughes finishing with 11 saves. The football standout, who will attend Mercer University on a football scholarship in the fall, made some big stops to keep the War Eagles out of the net.
“Gavin had a great game,” Medlock said. “That was probably the best game of the year he had. Offensively, we just didn’t play tonight. That’s a good team we just played. I hate it we lost to them, but it happens. We’ve had a great season. I couldn’t ask for anymore out of these kids.”
Rome, meanwhile, took a 4-0 lead into halftime on its way to a 4-2 win on the road against Clarkston as the Wolves now find themselves moving onto the Class 5A Elite Eight.
Rome came up short against Clarkston 4-3 in the second game of the season, so head coach Luis Goya was impressed with his team’s performance.
“This shows how much we have improved since we last played them,” Goya said. “I’m very pleased with the outcome. Everything is falling into place, and we’re taking the sport to the next level.”
Rahdriq Turner and Eduardo Zavala each scored two goals for the Wolves, who are ranked No. 10 in Class 5A by EurosportScoreboard.com. Zavala, Luis Guzman and Ivan Vazquez each had an assist.
The Wolves (15-4) will be on the road again Wednesday when they take on Whitewater, who upset Region 1-5A champion Veterans 4-1 in overtime on Thursday.
“We’re going to continue to do what we’re doing,” Goya said. “We’re going to make sure we analyze our opponent and find a weakness.”
In Class AA action, Armuchee took a 1-0 lead into halftime before eventually falling 3-2 to the Blue Devils in overtime. Blake Abney got the Indians on the board in the first half off an assist by Kody Manikas.
After Bremen (15-5-1) scored two quick goals near the beginning of the second half, Armuchee’s Simon Wilson scored off an assist by Davis Yeargan to tie the score 2-2 and ultimately send the match into overtime.
Bremen netted a goal with only 34 seconds left in the overtime period to seal the win and move on to the Elite Eight.
Armuchee goalkeeper Alex Lyle finished with 12 saves.
“It was another great season for us,” Armuchee head coach David McLaughlin said. “It was a tough game, but they left it all on the field so they can hold their heads up high.”
The Indians end their season with a 12-8-1 record.
Gordon Central owned a 1-0 lead at the half, but ended up coming up short 3-2 against the Panthers. The Warriors wrap up their season with a 13-7 record.
Region 7-AA has one more chance to see a team move on when the Pepperell boys face Social Circle on the road Friday.