MOULTRIE – When one mistake happens, and it leads to a goal in a high school soccer match, it could be the most difficult thing to overcome in all of prep sports. Two mistakes leading to two goals? That would need a miracle to survive and advance.
Colquitt County High boys soccer is that miracle team as it proved Wednesday at the Packer Pitch. Down 2-0 at halftime to Etowah High in the opening round of the GHSA Class 7A playoffs, the Packers struck early in the second half, then late in the second half, then a third time in overtime to claim a 3-2 victory.
A victory just as big took place in Cobb County when a region No. 4 seed, North Paulding, eliminated a region champion and top 10 ranked Pebblebrook High. Therefore, it is North Paulding making the road trip to Moultrie on May 2 for the second-round encounter, one the No. 10 Packers haven’t experienced in a few years.
Etowah, however, was in front of Colquitt on the scoreboard from both a penalty kick and an own goal in the opening half.
After halftime, the Packers as a group vowed to get on the board in the opening minute. Pedro Luna and his speed tried to get the point right away but was stopped at the post. The second minute was just as good, however, as a long lead from the Packer attacking zone went to senior midfielder Juan Pascual. He was onside, had nobody but the goalkeeper of Etowah to stop him, and that keeper played up leaving room for the ball to roll in off Pascual’s kick.
The Packers had new life down 2-1 at 38:25, and it would be a battle to just get that leveling point.
Gilbert Velasquez had a shot saved at 37:15. Colquitt County’s speed continued to apply pressure and lead to possession time for about 10 more minutes. The Packer senior goalkeeper, Tony Jimenez, had to fall on the ball by a post at 26:55 when Etowah switched the field and established a passing game. The visitors took a corner at 24:10 when Jimenez knocked a ball away, but the Packers were able to clear. Daniel Carriche, George Barber and Humberto Aguilar had a strong defensive showing when challenged in the second half. Aguilar even drew a foul on a steal near a sideline at 21:20.
Enrique Salgado experienced a pair of bad breaks on offense, shooting from the top of the box and hitting a post. He was also looking for a foul that never came streaking down field with the ball as the half reached its halfway point.
Etowah was able to break up passes and pressure the Packer defense. A big moment occurred at 12:04 with a yellow card handed to the home team. The free kick was set up just outside the box on the right side. Jimenez punch saved the initial strike and also knocked out the rebound. Etowah got nothing from the ensuing corner kick.
Pascual and Barber made plays to get Colquitt possessions that wouldn’t last, this as the half moved under 11 minutes. The soccer ball, as time was winding down more and more, was trapped in the bench-side corner on the Packer end.
But here comes the Packers kicking it out freely, and with break-neck speed there’s freshman Jason Gallardo out-pacing the defense, pulling the keeper away, and scoring the leveling goal at 1:37.
Colquitt were the early aggressors with the ball to start this match, but Etowah kept the hosts in check for 15 minutes until it was able to set things up offensively for the first time. Though Ulisis Malagon and Carriche were clearing things away, officials called a foul on Colquitt in the box at 25:01. Though the Packers won its share of shootouts this season with big saves, Etowah connected on this regulation PK to lead 1-0.
In the next minute of action, Pascual and Jimenez combined to save an Etowah header. Not soon afterwards, at 22:20, Abram Sanchez of Colquitt had two close open looks blocked.
It was at 15:17 when the own goal (a ball kicked into the net by your player) put Etowah ahead 2-0.
The Packers’ best chances to go into halftime with a point came at 11:25, John Reid Jarvis’ pass from the sideline to Gallardo was saved as they took on about five defenders. Sanchez’ pass to Ruben Gonzalez was cleared away at 1:31.