MOULTRIE – Enrique Salgado’s end-to-end scoring push resulted in the go-ahead goal of a thrilling high school soccer match Tuesday between arguably the premier programs in South Georgia. Salgado’s point, with 2:18 remaining, broke a 2-2 tie and gave Colquitt County High a 3-2 victory over defending GHSA AA champion Thomasville High on the Packer Pitch.
The Thomasville Bulldogs led the match 2-0 in the first half, but Jimbo Javis’ Packers are too familiar with playing the role of comeback kids. Colquitt County improved to 3-0 on the young 2020 season with its second one-goal win, the other one being Feb. 7 at Lee County High by a score of 1-0. Jarvis said that was a match where their biggest problem was finding the back of the net.
Jarvis also anticipated before Tuesday’s play that Thomasville would be every bit as strong as it was in winning the program’s second state title (the first was in 2010, the last year of a span where GHSA combined Classes AA and A for soccer). The first half was about back-and-forth possession time with the Packers taking the first serious shots on goal. Aldo Miranda passed the ball in the box to Salgado, and the Bulldogs broke things up to give Colquitt the first corner kick. A quick feed in to Gilbert Velasquez was tapped over the goal.
Still in the first seven minutes, Colquitt defender Caden Summerlin cleared the ball away for a throw-in near the corner. Humberto Aguilar, another part of the back line, headed the ball out towards midfield.
But at 29:43, Thomasville staked itself to a 1-0 lead. Almost a minute later the Bulldogs took a second shot on goal that missed high.
The Packers went from attacking at the right of the goalkeeper to the left, and John Reid Javis four times attempted to pass the ball from that left angle. When he found Salgado, the ball was knocked out for a corner at 23:30. Miranda made the corner kick, but the ball sailed by everybody.
Two minutes later, Miranda attacked on the left side, and his shot up close was saved. At 18:45, the Bulldogs fouled the hosts outside the top of the penalty box, but Miranda’s free kick missed high.
After seven more minutes of back-and-forth movement, Thomasville put touches together in the box and scored for the second time in the first half.
One player who changed the complexion of Colquitt’s offense in a substitute role was sophomore (and football placekicker) Jason Gallardo. As he checked in, the Packers just missed a point at 9:20 when he set the ball in to Salgado. Gallardo himself went on the move with the ball led to him onside by Summerlin, and it was a corner kick at 8:20. In the ensuing action, Summerlin drew a foul going after a free ball, and a blast from Josh Aviles hit one of the posts. A lot of players were going after the ball until the visiting keeper fell on it.
That was as close as the Packers got the remainder of the first half, but as the second half progressed the halftime adjustments put the Bulldogs back on their heels. At 36:45, Thomasville got a non-goalie save from Salgado’s shot off Gallardo’s feed. Two minutes later Miranda fired the ball in for a goalie save.
Several Packers including Aviles and Bryan Jimenez helped maintain possession, and Salgado ended Thomasville’s shutout off the assist by Gallardo at 32:18.
The second half proved big for Colquitt goalkeeper Yohan Garcia, a junior starting for the first time on varsity. His one-handed save came at 28:10.
It was also in this remaining time that play resulted in a few yellow cards, the first one going to the Bulldogs at 27:14. Colquitt’s first yellow came at the 24-minute mark.
But the Packers tied things up 2-2 at 18:36 as Jimenez took a direct free kick passed the wall of Bulldogs from a right angle. Garcia followed that up with two saves at 16:48 and 13:40.
Inside the final 10 minutes, Colquitt was getting corner kicks. There was so much scrambling that players – but not the ball – were falling into the net. Miranda had a shot saved and Velasquez missed high.
After Salgado scored the game winner – basically taking the ball on the Bulldog attacking end and going non-stop before shooting – he had another shot saved with 31 seconds to play. In those 31 seconds, Thomasville controlled possession, took one more free kick and had the ball in the vicinity of the box as time expired.
Other Colquitt defensive standouts were Bobby Ussery and Raul Reina Diaz.
• Colquitt’s Lady Packers shut out the Thomasville Lady Bulldogs 5-0 Tuesday at home to improve to 2-1.
One of coach Will Phillips’ major lineup adjustments is playing senior Ragan Harden up top (formerly of the midfield) in place of the injured Chloe Gould. Harden took the match’s first shot on goal (from a pass by Osiris Lopez) in the first three minutes. Lopez had an active time on the field stealing the ball for Colquitt while a freshman, Morgan Holder, consistently stopped the visitors from getting clear shots.
Clear shots weren’t there for the Lady Packers in a box full of defenders to deflect the ball. But Harden drew a foul in that area and was rewarded with a penalty kick. She converted at 24:40.
At 14:22 of the first half, the ball went from Noelia Sanchez to Edelma Velazquez to Lopez to Reagan Young. The last to get it was senior Daliza Gachuz, whose sliding shot went in for 2-0 Colquitt.
Branda Velazquez checked in and provided some energy. She ran down the ball and took a shot that hit the left post at 6:10.
On to the second half, where Evelyn Vasquez had two shots on the run saved within the first five minutes. Ten minutes later Branda Velazquez sprinted end to end for a goal at 24:19. The remaining goals were from Edelma Velazquez (8:09) and Sabrina Mesty, who chased down a lead kick from midfield and punched it home at 2:09.
Madison Edmonson substituted in at goalkeeper to complete the shutout. Helping the goalies in the back were Chloe Sumner and Jacey Wetherington.