The Liberty County Lady Panthers survived a late surge from the Bradwell Lady Tigers on Friday to claim a 3-2 soccer victory at Bradwell.
Also Friday, the Bradwell boys blanked Liberty 4-0 led by Tiger senior Roman Bunetipo’s three goals.
In a physical contest, Liberty gained an early advantage when Sidney Wilkinson netted a penalty kick. Minutes later, Wilkinson scored Liberty’s second goal off a cross from Myesha Robinson.
As the first half ended, Liberty notched another penalty kick, this time from Alexi Limer, for a solid 3-0 lead.
Monique Haynes scored Bradwell’s first goal in the first five minutes of play in the second half as the Lady Tigers played the second half with renewed vigor.
Offensively, Bradwell kept the ball on Liberty’s end of the field. Caitlin Coston and Martha Hause mounted stout midfield defense, giving the Lady Tigers more opportunities for shots on goal.
Bradwell’s quickened pace of play resulted in its second goal when the ball ended up in front of Liberty’s net, and BI freshman Dayle McCallar and Cassandra Ruff charged through the Lady Panthers defenders. Ruff kicked in the ball, cutting Liberty’s lead to one goal at 3-2.
“Freshman goalkeeper Carmae Gumataotao was stellar for us today, especially how Bradwell came out in the second half. She had some big saves and great defense in the last half,” Liberty County Lady Panthers Head Coach Jarvis MacArthur said.
The coach said Gumataotao also had some huge saves Tuesday, when they hosted Savannah Country Day and lost 4-1.
“We finally scored late in the game when junior Jennifer Garcia netted her fifth goal of the season on a penalty kick,” he said, adding that he was pleased with the play of senior Jhanee O’Neal and junior Alexi Limer.
Liberty now turns its attention to the state playoffs with a 5-7 record and 2-2 Region 3-AAAA mark.
Bradwell ended its season Friday, and the Lady Tigers celebrated its seniors on the team.
“We had some solid senior leaders who will be missed next season. Alicia McCray and Cat Wood anchored a defense that made it difficult for teams to put the ball into the net,” Lady Tiger coach Scott Akin said. “Cris Eskridge was a very solid keeper for the Lady Tigers. Jazmine Parker was our most serviceable player on the field. She was asked to play multiple positions and did so with a great, competitive heart. Cat and Alecia played for the Lady Tigers in each of their four high-school seasons. Alecia was the heart and soul of our defense. Cat and Mac brought fantastic skill sets to our team. Both ladies will get to continue to play soccer at the college level.
“We had some other seniors who did not see a great deal of playing time but were important members of our team. I will miss them all. I am proud of the Lady Tigers and how hard they fought all season.”
Akin also said that underclassman Martha Hause and Monique Haynes scored some big goals for the Lady Tigers during season.
“I also want to mention one of our sophomores. Caitlin Coston will be leaving us at the end if the school year; her family is moving to Alabama. She will be missed by the Lady Tigers. She is a warrior in cleats,” he said.
The Lady Tigers finished the season 3-9 overall and 0-7 in Region 3-AAAAA.
Bradwell senior Roman Buentipo scored early and often in leading the Tigers to the win.
Buentipo scored in the first five minutes and added another goal in the final minutes of the first half. Xxavier Clyde put in a goal in the second half and Buentipo completed the hat trick with goal No. 3 in the final 10 minutes of the match.
The Tigers finished the year 3-8-2 overall and 0-8 in region play. They entered the season with a lot of promise. However, a new, stronger region awaited them. While the Tigers could match up with the teams of the new region, Bradwell could not outlast a tumultuous season that was plagued with injuries in key positions. Still, Tigers coach Tommy Oglesby was proud of the determination and willingness of his players to keep competing.
“I’m extremely proud of these young men. We didn’t have the season we wanted. It was filled with injuries, adversity, loss of loved ones and much more, but these guys have never stopped working hard for their team,” he said. “Thank you, guys, for leading this team, and I’m thrilled you guys were able to get a win tonight on your last night on Olvey Field.”
The Panthers ended the season 1-10-1 overall and 0-5 in Region 3-AAAA.