The Valdosta Daily Times
Lowndes’ varsity soccer teams swept crosstown rival Valdosta in non-region action Friday night. They games were played at Valdosta State University's soccer complex.
Lowndes’ girls started the night off with a 2-0 win over the Lady Wildcats, and were followed up with the boys’ 3-1 win.
Although it was considered a home game for Lowndes — Martin Stadium is currently under renovation and the teams were forced to play at VSU — the crowd was a near even-split as the Winnersville rivals battled through two highly-contested games.
The Vikings (7-4, 3-0 Region 1) scored a pair of first-half goals before adding a late goal in the closing minutes to ice their victory over the Wildcats (3-8, 0-4 Region 1).
“It was a great crowd,” Lowndes boys’ head coach Jordan Breit said. “We appreciate all of our fans. It was a big one. It always is when we play Valdosta. We've got some things to fix, things to work on. You are always trying to get better, but it is a win.”
Lowndes’ Christian Houglin got the Vikings onto the scoreboard first, beating Valdosta goal keeper Adam Murphey on the left side in the 21st minute.
Nine minutes later, the Vikings were on the scoreboard again when Lowndes’ Chris Wilmont had a ball deflect off a Wildcat defender and get past Murphey, propelling the Vikings ahead 2-0.
“Early goals usually decide matches,” Breit said. “Soccer is a sport where 1-0 is a great game. So early goals are always great.”
The teams played even in the second half. Valdosta got a goal with 19 minutes remaining when Jamel Armstrong was awarded a penalty kick after being hit inside the box.
Armstrong drove the ball past the right side of Lowndes goal keeper Caleb Dawson, making the score 2-1.
“Pre-game, that is what we talked about: we were going to get Valdosta's best game,” Breit said. “I think it is a great rivalry. Sometimes we come out on top, and tonight we did.”
The Vikings quickly responded. Eli Gilmore broke past the Wildcat defense and scored a goal to make the score 3-1.
“That is a our team right there; we work 90 minutes,” Breit said. “We are a team of hard workers. It doesn't matter if we are down 2-0. It is nice to have this many young men know the value of hard work.”
Valdosta had its chances. After just four shots on goal in the first half, the Wildcats had six shots in the second half, including four that came in a span of two minutes, following Armstrong's penalty kick.
Lowndes girls 2, Valdosta 0
Lowndes scored one goal in the first half and added another in the second to defeat crosstown rival Valdosta 2-0 in non-region action Friday night.
The teams will meet April 16 for the official Region 1 game at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.
“It is always good to win,” Vikettes head coach Chris Willis said. “They play so hard, Valdosta does. It is such a great rivalry. Their program has come a far way. You could tell. We couldn’t have our way with them like we’d like to. It was a great fight.”
Lowndes (8-2, 3-0 Region 1) dominated possession Friday night, keeping the ball deep inside Valdosta (9-3, 2-2 Region 1) territory for the majority of the night.
With possession of the ball, the Vikettes managed 13 shots on goal, compared to Valdosta’s one shot against goalkeeper Allison Liu.
After playing to a scoreless draw across the opening 29 minutes, Lowndes’ Elizabeth Lott found the back of the net off a corner kick from Ashley Miller.
In the second half, Lowndes’ Alex Haun scored in the 50th minute, giving the Vikettes a 2-0 lead.
Lowndes had multiple opportunities to add to its lead, but failed to do so. In the 37th minute, Shelby Joyner shot too high, despite having a look in front of net. In the second half, Katie Willis missed high. Two minutes later, Lowndes had a pass roll across the goal line and not roll in for the score.
“It is the finishing, we work on that all the time,” Willis said. “The problem is there in the pro’s, college and high school. Finishing is one of the most difficult things. (Valdosta) did a great job. They had six people playing defense and it is tough t get a shot in there.”
Lowndes’ win Friday followed up an impressive win over Tift County Tuesday night, making the Vikettes the front-runner to win the region championship.
“We are in the drivers seat; it is ours to lose,” Willis said. “That was a big win Tuesday night.”