The PHS Boys Varsity soccer team traveled to Duck Samford Stadium in Auburn, Alabama Tuesday night, and returned victorious after a hard fought 3-2 victory over the Auburn High Tigers. The game had an inauspicious start for the Lions as they surrendered a goal within the first 17 seconds of the opening kickoff. The game’s first half comprised of lightening fast end to end action. A mere 3 minutes after the Tigers took the lead, the Lions found an equalizer off the foot of Cole Salle’. John Bednarski ripped a shot from close range that beat the keeper but was cleared just before it reached the goal line. Salle’ closed on goal from his Left Midfield positon, collected the loose ball and shot past the Tigers defender. A short 5 minutes later, the Tigers scored their second goal as the Lions defense was still trying to find its form. Undeterred by the pressure, Lions senior Cole Webster leveled the score again when he headed home a ball thrown in by Tylan Perine. The teams went into the halftime break tied at 2 goals each.
The second half was an intense bit of action. The Lions dominated possession, but had to fight off counter attacks repeatedly. Senior defenders Ben Hendricks and Brett Middleton were called upon by Head Coach Rob Milner to slow the Tigers large, aggressive forwards. The defenders were challenged but were able to parry the Tigers attacks. With only 3 minutes remaining in the game, Lions Midfielder Carlos Lapena collected a ball in the middle of the field and slipped a pass behind the Tigers defense to Webster who dribbled toward goal and secured the victory by whipping a shot past the outstretched Tigers net minder. The remaining minutes went by in a flash as the Lions attacked every loose ball until time expired.
Following the game, Coach Milner stated, “What a wonderful result for us tonight. To reach the second round of the state playoffs for the first time in a while is so satisfying for this group who suffered defeat versus Auburn at this stage last year. We played nervously at the opening but grew into the game after some early mistakes. We played much better in the second half but credit to Auburn as they fought us all the way. Over the 80 minutes I feel we deserved the victory. We fought back three times tonight and it showed the will power we have to succeed. Tough game ahead in the second round versus Davidson at home. We expect a bumper crowd and the same enthusiastic following we had tonight at Auburn. Thanks to all who came to watch a nail biter to say the least.”
The Lions will host Davidson this Saturday night, May 6, 2017 in Quarterfinal action at Stanley-Jensen Stadium. Time is still to be determined.