NEW ALBANY - The New Albany and Pontotoc soccer teams engaged in two tightly contested matches on Thursday in 4A non-division soccer as New Albany won the boys match 2-1 while taking the girls contest by a 1-0 final.
New Albany used a second half goal in each of the games to gain the decision over their Highway 15 South rivals.
"I thought we played pretty well, controlled much of the game and didn't allow a lot of opportunities to concede," New Albany boys coach Caryl Vogel said. "I thought our front three and attacking mids did a great job of staying unpredictable and dynamic in the attack."
Pontotoc took the early advantage as Spencer Bass found net in the 16th minute to give the Warriors the early 1-0 lead.
However, New Albany came back with the equalizer goal in the 23rd minute as Max Spencer scored inside the 18 to tie it at 1-1.
"Max's goal was a great ball from John Davis, Max's first touch was great and the official made a great call to play the advantage after the ball hit the center back's arm," Vogel said. "Max took another touch and played it into the corner for a great, composed finish."
The match then settled into a back-and-forth affair that was played for the most part in the middle third of the pitch and the scored remained 1-1 at the half.
"I thought our midfield of John Davis, Eli Mejia, Cristian Perez and Dylan Reynoso did a great job of pressing the attacking third and giving us opportunities to counter," Vogel said. "They did a great job of communicating and setting traps on the field to press.
"In addition, to their defensive effort, they did a phenomenal job of getting the ball into dangerous positions in the attack."
New Albany broke the tie and scored the game-deciding goal in the 64th minute on Dani Avila's score for the 2-1 lead.
"Dani's goal was created by a shot by Max that was deflected," Vogel said. "Both shots demonstrated each player's composure and confidence in front of goal."
Defense controlled the remainder of the match for both teams and the Bulldogs took the 2-1 win.
"One of our topics of focus has been 1V1 defending and I thought our backline did a great job of that tonight," Vogel said. "Brian Romero and Braulio Cuellar did a great job of covering our outside backs tonight, who had a tough time with Pontotoc's wingers. On the outside Cade Huffman, Alex Rodriquez and Leo Contreras did a great job of containing them."
(G) New Albany 1, Pontotoc 0
Rosa Lopez broke a scoreless tie with her goal in the 77th minute to give the Lady Bulldogs the 1-0 win over the Lady Warriors in the opening contest. Lopez blooped a shot inside the far post from 12 yards out for the game winner.
"That goal had been coming, not only for her, but the entire team for a long time," New Albany girls coach Bert Anderson said. "To actually get one when that one happened, you could tell the relief for her scoring one and also for the team. It could not have come at a better time, that's for sure."
Lopez's goal came just minutes after a shot inside the 18 by Annalyn Hogue just missed the frame by inches. New Albany continued to pressure the zone and added the winning goal less than five minutes later.