Athens boys team was inches away.
Trailing 1-0, Jose Soto’s long-range shot with less than a minute to play bounced off the underside of the crossbar and down on the goal line, inches from going in.
Briarwood fought off one Athens attack after another in the second half to hold on for a 1-0 victory in the 5A semifinals Friday afternoon at John Hunt Park.
“It was a nail-biter. We knew it wasn’t over until the final whistle,” said senior captain Wynn Baker. “They just made some big saves at the end. That was the difference.”
Athens sent wave after wave to attack the Briarwood goal in the closing minutes of the game. Its best chances came with less than two minutes to play.
Pressing for a goal, Wynn Baker fired a shot from 30 yards, forcing Briarwood’s goalie to go full stretch to his left to save the dipping ball. On the ensuing corner, the ball bounced out to Soto who ripped another shot toward Briarwood’s goal.
Soto’s ball hit the crossbar and sent Briarwood’s defense into chaos trying to clear the ball in the dying seconds of the game. Moments later the referee blew the final whistle, ending Athens unbeaten season.
“We repeatedly attacked their goal in the second half,” said Athens head coach Ron Oakley. “They outplayed us a little in the first half and we challenged our guys to step up and they did just that.”
Athens outshot Briarwood 11 to 5 in the second half and 15 to 8 for the game.
Briarwood took the lead in the 23rd minute when Lee Conner found space on the right flank. Conner’s shot from the right side of the 18-yard box slid past Dean Bunnell and into the side netting for the game’s only goal.
It was the first time Athens’ trailed all season.
“The response we had is what I expected from them,” said Oakley. “This team has character and they’ve showed it for the past four years. Somebody always steps up. I’m proud of the way they played. I couldn’t have been more proud if we had won.”
Athens ends its season with a 21-1-1 record.
Athens boys team was inches away.
- Local News 2
TRACTOR PULL: A new generation takes over in Tanner
One of the first families of the Tanner pull is the Haneys. Horace Haney, along with brother, Shirley, co-founded the event in 1976 that draws thousands to the county each year. The sons of those pulling pioneers now run the show.
Clay Haney follows in father’s footsteps
After watching his dad pull for the past 20 years, Clay finally got his chance. Although he has pulled multiple times over the years, this will be the first year to compete for points in the Mid-South Pullers Association.
North win streak improves to 12
The South last won 85-76 in in 2002.
Local athletes lead North to soccer sweep
East Limestone’s Dilan Sayer scored the opening goal and was named MVP of the boys game in a 3-0 win while Jordan Runion scored her team’s opening goal in a 3-1 for the girls.
Davidson helps North tie
She was one of only three North players to record a hit in the opener, which ended 3-3.
Pitching duties were shared by Lexington’s Jessie Butler, Central-Florence’s Ashley Irons and Hartselle’s Jada Hayes along with eventual North MVP Maddie Moore of Winfield.
Tedford, Potts take on the South in All-Star hoops game
Stace Tedford has had a busy year at Athens. After leading the basketball team to a school-record 24 consecutive wins and regional finals appearance, he jumped straight into soccer season, where he took the varsity girls soccer team to another 5A state championship game.
Wednesday, Tedford will be on the court again, coaching in the North-South All-Star basketball game.
Strong local presence at state All-Star Week
Some of the top rising seniors from the Athens-Limestone area will play in six of the games, beginning with softball and soccer games Tuesday.
Before politics, Seibert played for the Tide
A standout on West Limestone’s football team, Seibert’s road to Tuscaloosa wasn’t an easy one. Determined to play at the highest level, he attempted to join the Tide as a walk-on in fall 1993.
State softball tournament begins in Athens today
The three-day, double-elimination event begins at 6 tonight at the Athens Sportsplex.
Run with goats Saturday
Belle Chevre Creamery will hosts the first annual ‘Running with the Goats’ Saturday in downtown Elkmont. The event will feature a 10K, 5K and fun run on the certified Rails to Trails course.
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