NEW ALBANY - The New Albany Bulldogs gave up a couples of goals within a 14 minute span and that was all North Pontotoc needed to take the 2-0 1-4A win on Thursday. Both goals were surrendered in the opening half of the contest.
"It was a lackluster first half performance and we didn't play with the effort that was necessary," New Albany coach Austin Baker said. "There have been glimpses of that throughout the season and I just had to remind them at halftime that you can't play with that effort if you want to be successful. The first half performance was frustrating to say the least.
North Pontotoc's first goal came in the sixth minute as Holden Little found net to put the Vikings up 1-0.
Little struck again in the 20th minute to wrap up the night's scoring for both teams to give North Pontotoc the 2-0 lead.
North Pontotoc was able to possess the ball more during the first half as well as getting a few more looks at the frame versus the Bulldogs limited opportunities.
However, the Bulldogs came back from the intermission with a different perspective which in turn gave them some good looks on goal.
"The second half we came out and we played better, the effort in the second created more opportunities, wore them (North Pontotoc) down a little bit. They are a good defensive team, they are athletic across the field and have got some key players on their team that are good defenders. They work very hard, even from the striker all the way to the center back, the striker puts a lot of pressure on.
"I think we did a little bit better job in the second half staying composed on the ball and spacing them out a little bit more like I know we are capable of doing."
Despite the more fluid play from the Bulldogs, North Pontotoc was able to fend off any and all scoring threats to retain the shutout and take the win 2-0.
The Vikings won Division 1-4A with a 9-1 record while the Bulldogs finished third at 6-4, a game back of Corinth which finished 7-3.
New Albany now moves on the the Class 4A playoffs on Saturday and will go on the road to face either Raymond or Lanier.
This is the first year that the MHSAA has allowed for the third place teams from each division to play in the postseason.
New Albany 7, North Pontotoc 1 (G)
Sammi Jo Doyle went out with a resounding bang on senior night as she struck for four goals to help the Lady Bulldogs take a 7-1 win over the Lady Vikings.
Doyle scored two goals very early as she found net in the second and fourth minutes to give her team the 2-0 lead.
Teammate Kiristen Knox followed with a goal in the sixth minute and Lilly Shannon scored right after the reset of the ball to put the Lady Bulldogs up 4-0.
Coach Bert Anderson went to his bench and gave his starters a rest for most of the first half.
Anne Crotwell scored the lone goal for the Lady Vikings with her score in the 28th minute and the teams went to half with New Albany leading 4-1.
Doyle and most of the starters returned in the second half and she wasted littel time getting the hat trick with her third goal at the 46 minute mark. She followed that with her fourth goal in the 48th minute to give the Lady Bulldogs a 6-1 lead.
Senior Morgan Pipkin scored the final New Albany goal in the 76th minute on a penalty kick to provide the final margin of 7-1.
The Lady Bulldogs will next be in action at home with their playoff match on Tuesday against the Newton County/Pontotoc winner in the Class 4A soccer playoffs.