The Valdosta Daily Times
Call it a clean sweep for Lowndes soccer.
After securing the Region 1-AAAAAA championships with wins over Coffee last Friday, the Lowndes soccer teams capped off their region schedules with a pair of wins over crosstown rival Valdosta on Tuesday night.
Both Lowndes teams finished region play with perfect 6-0 records.
The Vikings secured their first region championship since 2004 with a 3-0 win over the Wildcats, while the Vikettes claimed their third straight region championship with a 3-1 win over Valdosta.
“It is exciting,” said Lowndes boys head coach Jordan Breit, who was doused with a bucket full of ice cold water following the win. “I am proud of both of our teams. If anything, I would just say that it is a testament to the work that these young men and women are putting in — out of season and putting the same effort in the high school season.”
With the No. 1 seeds in the Class 6A state tournament, neither Lowndes team will have to go on the road in the state playoffs, including if they were to advance to the state championship game in May.
“That is exciting,” Breit said. “That is exciting for the players. It is exciting for the fans that come and support us. I am excited about going in and having that home field all the way through. I’m hoping it gives us a little bit of an edge. Wherever you are coming from to play Lowndes, it is a far way.”
After a scoreless first half, the Vikings scored three goals in the second half to secure the win over the Wildcats, their second of the season.
The Vikings scored a pair of goals within the opening five minutes of the second half, the first coming on a goal in the 43rd minute by Pierre Castor, who also scored the Vikings’ final goal of the night with a minute remaining.
Castor beat the Wildcat defenders down the right side, sneaking it past Valdosta goalkeeper Nicolas Criscuola for the first goal of the game.
Just two minutes later, the Vikings were back on the scoreboard when Richard Hipke made a penalty kick, making the score 2-0.
Hipke was awarded the penalty kick after Criscuola tackled him in the box, resulting in Criscuola being issued a red card and being ejected from the game.
Lowndes added the final goal of the game when Castor received a pass down the right side, and sneaked it past Valdosta’s backup goalkeeper.
“It isn’t over until the last horn blows,” Breit said. “We have had two or three games where we put it in the last 60, 80 seconds. You can’t discount any team in our region or any team we play.”
The first half was scoreless, but the competition was high. Both teams had chances to score in the half, but couldn’t convert.
On multiple occasions, the Vikings had open shots in front of the goal, but either missed them high or wide.
Valdosta wasn’t much better. The Wildcats’ best chance to score came in the eighth minute, when a pair of Wildcat players fought over the ball in front of the goal, allowing a pair of Viking defenders to close in and clear the ball.
Lowndes girls 3, Valdosta 1
Lowndes’ girls soccer team claimed its third straight Region 1 championship and improved to 12-2 overall and a perfect 6-0 in region play Tuesday night.
“The seniors went out the way they wanted to — they wanted a clean sweep of the region,” Lowndes head coach Chris Willis said. “This is good. I am proud of them. They’ve done a great job. …. A couple of years ago, it was Moultrie and Tifton. We were on the outside looking in and when I took over the program we had not even been in contention. It was always, ‘Who is going to be first and second? Moultrie or Tifton?’ And I guess they have to think about us now. It feels good now.”
The Vikettes built a 2-0 lead early in the second half and added a late goal to secure the win over the Lady Wildcats, who have continued to show improvement throughout the season.
“We need to get ready for the playoffs, so I am glad Valdosta is playing tougher,” Willis said. “Because when we move on, we are trying to do more than just win region.”
Lowndes held just a 1-0 lead at halftime, coming on a goal from Hannah Jo Isaacson in the 13th minute, before adding a goal from Alex Haun just 46 seconds into the second half to take a 2-0 lead.
Isaacson received a pass up the middle and beat the Valdosta defenders on the outside, connecting on the goal from the left side. The Vikettes found the back of the goal five minutes later, but an offside call negated the goal and the score remained 1-0.
From there, Lowndes continued its pressure-filled game plan, but came up empty with misses and nice save attempts from Valdosta, which struggled in the first half and didn’t manage a shot on goal until the 37th minute.
The Lady Wildcats played much better in the second half, cutting into Lowndes’ lead on a goal with 26:50 remaining when Amy Nelson cleared the ball over the head of Vikettes goalkeeper Allison Liu.
The game remained relatively even. Valdosta even had a chance to tie the game with four minutes remaining, but the shot went wide.
Then, Lowndes closed the door on the Lady Wildcats when Elizabeth Lott beat every VHS defender, including the goalkeeper, for an easy game-clinching goal.
“That is the thing about our team, we don’t get excited when we get a goal, we get up two goals we don’t get excited. We just play the same game,” Willis said. “We get down, we get back to work.”
Both Lowndes teams close out the home portion of their schedule Friday with games against Thomas County Central.