MOULTRIE – Even without the controversial waved-off goal, it was all North Paulding on the Packer Pitch soccer field Thursday.
Colquitt County High lost its first GHSA ‘Sweet 16’ game since 2014 when the Wolfpak from North Paulding shut down the Packers 4-0. Jimbo Jarvis’ group never even had that moment of great despair, like a ball slipping on the wrong side of a post by inches or the visiting goalkeeper making the miracle of miracle saves.
Instead, it was North Paulding taking away the soccer ball and making more chances at the net. It was their momentum for about nine minutes into the first half, and the Packers tried to swing it with a midfield foul on the visitors. Pedro Luna broke away to the side of the penalty box and had the ball knocked away for a corner kick.
Corners never gave Colquitt any open chances, however. The defense answered a few calls as George Barber broke up a shot when the Wolfpak won its own goal kick passed onside.
This would lead to the initial score on North Paulding’s corner kick. Goalkeeper Tony Jimenez had the ball, but officials ruled that ball fully crossed the line first to count for 1-0.
As the half moved on, Jimenez saved a free kick shot at 26:28. There was no shortage of back-and-forth play as Luna’s dribble moves made for a corner kick. This was cleared away by North Paulding’s keeper’s hand, and Ruben Gonzalez’s follow-up shot was blocked by the wall of defenders.
For the next five minutes, Daniel Carriche, Bobby Ussrey, Barber, Juan Pascual and Humberto Aguilar delivered clutch stops. Aguilar made the Wolfpak take a corner for nothing at 15:50.
Aldo Miranda then broke loose for a shot blocked. The rebound went to Gonzalez, but his effort was saved at 14:30. Carriche hit a key block, Jason Gallardo stole the ball away on the North Paulding end, and with two offsides at the 11-minute mark, Colquitt kept the score 1-0.
But on the breakaway over the middle not whistled for offside, there was a collision in the box. The ruling was a penalty kick for the Wolfpak, and with Colquitt having to change keepers North Paulding went ahead 2-0 (8:21).
No reason for panic, though, for the Packers rallied from two goals down last week at home in the state opening round to win 3-2 in overtime.
But this was a different opponent, one that broke up two ensuing Packer charges. Aguilar himself did a great job to make them settle for a corner kick.
The controversy, however, was when the Packers were called for a foul just outside the box. With a North Paulding injury on the play and a lot of substituting, the official called the ball in play, and it was drilled in at 3:42.
Only, the injured player and his coach were still on the field. The official noted this mistake and waved off the goal, much to the anger of North Paulding.
The reset for the free kick resulted in a save for Jimenez.
Before the half, the Packers earned a free kick about 20 yards away but blasted it way high.
Colquitt struck early in the second half of that first-round comeback, but the open opportunities were never there Thursday. Miranda could not hold a crossing pass on the weak side. and he worked for a two corner tries, both in the first eight minutes.
Yellow cards were issued on occasion during this second half.
Barber’s clear away led to some passing to the other end between Gallardo and Gilbert Velasquez. They couldn’t get a clean look at the 28-minute mark.
North Paulding claimed an ensuing 50-50 and made some moves that turned into a 3-0 Wolfpak lead at 27:41.
Over the next three minutes Aguilar and Jimenez saved shots, and there was another stop on a yellow free kick by the Packers at 20:44. With 17 minutes to go, a NP free kick from near a corner was saved.
The most impactful stop against a Packer was the block on Velasquez at 9:41. Switching the other way in 20 seconds, the Wolfpak scored the final goal.