MOULTRIE – While he may or may not be on his way to FIFA stardom, Tony Jimenez became a cult hero in Colquitt County High soccer lore Friday on the Packer Pitch.
Smothering the soccer ball, Jimenez made the game-clinching penalty-kick save to give the Packers a 4-3 win over Camden County High in both the first home match and first Region 1-7A contest of the 2019 season. Jimenez, with the daunting task of replacing an All-Region goalkeeper in Blayton Duncan, saved three penalty kicks in all from Camden County during the shootout that went one round over the required total of five.
In a new format where each side takes turns taking the first shot of a shootout, Jimenez saved Camden County’s first attempt by knocking the ball away. Josh Aviles promptly put Colquitt County’s first kick in the back of the net.
Enrique Salgado banged his kick onto a post, and the visiting Wildcats took advantage to tie the shootout 1-1. Jimenez stayed in goal to start round 3 and knocked the ball away a second time. Abram Sanchez then put the Packers ahead again 2-1.
Ruben Gonzalez’ ball hit the top bar keeping Camden’s hopes alive, and the Wildcats responded scoring two goals in a row. To end the fifth round, Colquitt sent the match into a sudden-death situation tied 3-3 thanks to freshman Jason Gallardo. Juan Pascual, who also made a heroic moment in this match, converted the eventual winning kick.
It was Camden County who seemed to have victory in sight – which would be the first suffered by the Packers in 2019 – when the Wildcats were awarded a free kick about 30 yards away from the goal in the final minute of regulation. That kick hit one of the posts, but Camden found the rebound and connected to break a 2-2 tie that stood all the way back to first-half action.
That put Jimbo Jarvis’ group into desperation, urgent, hurry-up mode with all hands attacking knowing there were 55 seconds to get the leveling point. Camden made the mistake of pushing Pascual while he was in the penalty box, and he made this penalty kick with ease.
So the home crowd saw not only the new penalty-kick rules in effect, but also the new overtime format of one 15-minute period replacing the two five-minute periods. The Packers had a pair of free kicks one after the other in overtime that didn’t result in a shot on goal, and it was also here where the match had its only yellow card, that issued on the Wildcats.
Jimenez was well motivated to make a big play Friday, for when the match began Camden went on a break and scored the first goal between the keeper’s legs. That was less than four minutes into play.
Less than four minutes later, the Packers leveled the match 1-1. Gonzalez put the ball into the goal after Aviles attacked in the box.
The even score was indicative of the fact this was an evenly-played match, especially in the first half. Humberto Aguilar made big-time kicks in the backfield trying to set up Colquitt on offense. Bobby Ussery and Daniel Carriche were also busy breaking things up against the Camden offense. Each side was getting shots that were off the mark – like Salgado for Colquitt – as the half got down to 25:40.
But the Packers earned their first lead 2-1 at 20:01 when – from the top of the 18 – Salgado fed Gallardo.
At 17:30, Aviles missed on a header, and at 16:37 Jimenez saved Camden’s shot up close. Ussrey’s shot on goal, set up by Aldo Miranda’s crossing ball, was saved at 14:20.
It was at 13:45 that a high ball sent towards the Colquitt net resulted in a Wildcat break and, despite the defensive presence, the Kingsland visitors tied the match 2-2.
From the ensuing kickoff, Gallardo made a serious charge Camden was able to stop. Colquitt got a corner kick as a result, and the ball hit the top bar before being cleared away.
With halftime less than 10 minutes away, Carriche helped Jimenez get a mishandled ball away. Miranda got possession and pushed it the other direction. Aviles took it for the shot saved at 8:30.
The Wildcats had three corner kicks with nothing to show for them, and at 4:57 they missed a head shot wide.
Possession time was heavily in the Packers’ favor through 50-50 ball domination in the second half. The Wildcat keeper slapped one ball away at 34:10, and Colquitt had two corner kicks (with no shots) in the first 10 minutes. With under 29 minutes to play, Gonzalez passed to Sanchez for a shot saved before Salgado could get to the rebound.
Gonzalez, about seven minutes later, missed a header high from Pascual’s pass, and seconds later Pedro Luna was in the middle but missed wide, Gallardo feeding him the ball. Nearing the halfway mark, Gallardo lined up for a 25-yard free kick (hand ball on the Cats), but the ball sailed high.
Not long afterwards, Gilbert Velasquez made his presence known sprinting with the ball. He set up Gonzalez for a shot missed high and got the Packers a corner kick. Again, the ball kicked by Pascual and passed off by Sanchez missed high.
The Packers had more corners, but under the 10-minute mark Camden began flipping the field several times, though the Packers quickly recovered the ball each time. Carriche headed away a free kick from 45 yards away, and Bryan Jimenez, another late substitute, came up with key steals. This Jimenez also got a shot off from Pascual at 2:10.
LADY PACKERS FALL 3-0
Olivia Sullivan of Camden County High girls soccer showed off her scoring skills in the 2018 season at the Packer Pitch. She returned with the Lady Wildcats Friday and scored two more times in the 3-0 Region 1-7A win.
Camden’s scoring didn’t come quick and easy, however. Goalkeeper Julia Warnock of the Lady Packers and others were ready and defended things deep into the first half. Warnock’s first save was at 37:40, sweeper Mary Jacobs defended an attacker up the middle and Chloe Sumner backed up the keeper to clear the ball on an attack from a corner. At 34:35, Warnock laid out to stop another up-the-middle charge covered by Jacobs, and Warnock saved Sullivan’s first attempt at 33:35.
Sullivan had been acting as a set-up player, then used her footwork and speed to beat two defenders. She hit the post, however, with less than 29 minutes to go.
Colquitt’s girls couldn’t get an attack until halfway through. Daliza Gachuz disrupted things and Joy Del Angel got the ball to top scorer Chloe Gould. Her ball was knocked away for a corner kick (no shot).
Back the other way, at 18:45 Warnock caught Sullivan’s shot and Gachuz played more strong defense off coach Will Phillips’ bench. Warnock earned one more save (11:08), but Sullivan, amid a crowd in the box, punched the ball end to put Camden up 1-0 (7:53).
The Lady Wildcats took several more corner kicks in the last six minutes and missed the edge of the goal at 5:14. Sumner pulled off a big non-goalie save as Warnock played the ball high at 1:20.
The second half began with three Warnock saves, one kicked away at 33:50. Reagan Young cleared away a corner kick (30:20), but Camden retained the ball and, at 29:39, went high with a shot that found space and gave the visitors at 2-0 lead.
Young broke up Sullivan’s charge off the kickoff, and freshman Ryley McCoy cleared the ensuing corner kick. Warnock next save was at 27:51. McCoy, Gould and Ragan Harden had a push going for Colquitt, but the ball went back to Sullivan. Going end to end, she drew a foul and made the penalty kick for 3-0 at 23:14.