matt.stewart@gaflnews.com



VALDOSTA -- Lowndes High soccer handed Colquitt County its first loss of the season, 3-1, Friday at Martin Stadium and moved ahead of the Packers in Region 1-AAAAA.

At 3-0-1 in the region, Lowndes moves one game ahead of Colquitt (2-1-1). Valdosta is 3-0-2.

"We were bigger and stronger than they were," Vikings' head coach Paul Strassburg said. "That helped us a lot. This was definitely a good win because we were tied with them in the region for first."

Ryan Townson's kick from the left hash marks found the back right corner of the net in the 33th minute of the first half, giving the Vikings (7-2-1 overall) a commanding 3-0 lead (assist by Michael Moore). Moore and Townson teamed up on the second Lowndes goal when Moore took a pass from Townson and had his shot on goal blocked, but controlled the rebound and scored.

The Vikings' first goal was the most entertaining. Off of a corner kick, Lowndes' Thomas Bailey had his header deflect off the top crossbar and Moore's quick kick off the rebound was snuffed out by the Colquitt goalkeeper. James King found himself in the right place at the right time and used a header to score the Vikings' first goal in the 13th minute.

James Salter, in goal for the Vikings, denied at least 10 shots, but had one sneak by in the 75th minute, cutting the Lowndes lead to 3-1.

"Jeff played great," Strassburg said. "He keeps improving and keeps improving. I'm going to have a hard time filling his spot next year."

The Vikings were without starting center midfielder Kurtis Schmidt, Moore (ankle) played for the first time in two weeks, John Suddarth (hip flexor) also returned and Bailey played with a broken arm.

"We were pretty beaten up," Strassburg said. "I actually didn't have a lineup until right before the game. I had to watch them warm up to see who could move."

Lowndes girls 1, Colquitt 0

Lowndes High girls' soccer dominated Colquitt County for 80 minutes Friday at Martin Stadium, but when it was over, all the Vikettes had to show for it was a 1-0 victory.

Still, it was enough to keep the Vikettes atop the region, one game ahead of Lee County and Tift County, each 3-1.

Lowndes (10-0, 4-0 Region 1-AAAAA) built a 1-0 lead in the opening five minutes of the first half on Ashley Elam's goal off a sideline throw-in from Amber Elam. The Vikettes would have to settle for a one-goal advantage at intermission, although they had several first half opportunities slip by.

"I think we were pressing a little bit," Vikettes head coach Bob Irwin said. "We got a little frustrated. We had some real good opportunities and we didn't cash in."

Irwin said Colquitt dropped an extra two to three defenders back to add defensive pressure in its own box. As a result, Lowndes had difficulty scoring at close-range, but Colquitt never got a shot on goal.

"[Colquitt] put more people back and we're going to see that," Irwin said. "It's something we're seeing more and more of. People are just saying, we're going to take our chances, stuff it in [defensively] and try to shut down Amber."

The Vikettes picked up their offensive pressure in the second half, but still couldn't find the net.

In the 62nd minute, Amber Elam's shot from 25 yards out bounced off the crossbar and out of bounds. Ashley Elam's free kick after a Colquitt infraction was denied by the Lady Packers' goal keeper in the 72nd minute and Brittany Mederos's close-range kick in the 74th minute was also secured by the Colquitt net minder.

"I'll give [Colquitt] credit," Irwin said. "They played a good defensive scheme, but we still had chances in the second half. They'd get a foot on it, or a hand on it, or a leg on it... or a crossbar on it. We executed, we just didn't get the ball in the net."

Lowndes soccer plays Tuesday against Valdosta High beginning at 6 p.m. at Vallotton Park.



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