Periodic drops of snowflakes, frigid temperatures and a constant flow of wind made it a difficult game for both teams.
“They played well despite the harsh weather conditions—the wind, the cold,” Pell City head coach Jeff Samoranski said. “Anytime you have those kind of conditions, the body doesn’t want to play. Fortunately, it goes for both teams. We played aggressively under the conditions and I think we came away with a good win despite the conditions.”
Due to the weather, the game was started with little time for pre-game warmups. Also, the first and second halves were each shortened to 40 minutes instead of the usual 45 minutes.
“We just came off of a big loss yesterday to Prattville, so we kind of wanted to come out strong but having five minutes to warm up probably wasn’t enough,” Ben Russell head coach Meghan Bailey said. “We played well. We’re not used to playing on a field like this and I think that the conditions were a lot worse than what we’re used to, especially being so cold out here. We still played well. Our center moves were up and forwards were playing well as well.”
Less than four minutes into the game, Akeia Green scored the first goal for Pell City when Ben Russell goalkeeper Lexi Key came out of the goalie’s box to try to make an aggressive save, but Green was able to get the ball through on a follow-up shot.
“I always ask my forwards—I play a three-front—I always ask them to crash the keeper regardless of what’s going on because you never know what’s going to happen,” Samoranski said. “One of our players took a shot, it bounced off the keeper and then she tried to come back to get it but then we had the follow-up that came and was able to get it away from the keeper and put it in.”
In the second half, Aliyah Bentley was issued a yellow card with 28:08 remaining. In a bizarre scenario, the referee stopped the game when Pell City fans expressed their displeasure with his call and ordered Samoranski to have the entire Pell City section leave the game. Many of the parents in attendance were then forced to watch the remainder of the game from beyond the confines of the chain-link fence at Pete Rich Stadium, while the referee ordered the timekeeper to reset the clock to 29 minutes. After a lengthy delay, the game resumed.
After Meghan Hughes’s shot on the goal sailed just over the goal, Ben Russell gained momentum with their offense. Bethanie Miller had a shot on the goal that Pell City goalkeeper Cate Eden came out to defend, but it was wide right of the goal.
Shortly after, Ruthann Ballard had another shot on the goal for Ben Russell but it was hit right to Eden.
With roughly twelve minutes remaining in the game, Pell City scored a second goal when Bentley made a nice cross to Kathryn Sawyer who was able to stay with the defenders before moving the ball closer to the center where her teammate Chloe Miller got it and made a shot for a goal.
Ballard got another shot on the goal with a header with 5:20 left in the game, but Eden made a diving save.
Ben Russell had a corner kick with less than a minute to play but Eden kicked it out, setting up another corner. On the second corner kick, Taylor Hughes was able to kick it out of defensive territory shortly before time expired.
Samoranski said he is pleased with the progress he has seen in the Pell City soccer program.
“I’ve had signings every year for the last four years,” he said. “There are two more this year, plus I think there will be two more later on this season and I’ve got a few next year that will be signing as well. So, it’s good for the program, good for the girls that they’re being seen and will play at the next level. It’s still early in the season. We’ve only had one area game. We won that, so we are number one in the area.”
The team’s next area game will be at home on Friday against Gadsden City.
Prior to the varsity game, the JV team, led by head coach Grant Woolwine, notched a 3-0 win. The score was tied 0-0 at halftime, but the JV Lady Panther score three second-half goals. Early in the second half, Abbie Traylor scored a goal. With 14:47 remaining, Madysen Humphries kicked the ball from the left side of the goal post into the back right side of the net for the team’s second goal. The third and final goal was perhaps the most impressive. Once again, Traylor found the net with around five minutes to play hitting the ball into the top right corner of the goal just beyond the reach of the goalie.