RHS boys advance in soccer playoffs
By Brannon King / For the FCT
The 2018 4A-5A ASHAA soccer playoffs recently got underway for both the Russellville High School boys and girls teams. In the second year of competition in school history, the boys have once again earned the right to play in the postseason, while the girls showed improvement this season and made the playoffs for the first time.
The Golden Tigers hosted the Lee-Huntsville boys in round one Friday night, and RHS came away with a dominating 9-0 victory. Saturday the girls traveled to Huntsville to take St. John Paul II Catholic on the campus of UAH and fell to the Falcons 4-0.
In the boys’ game, the Golden Tigers took little time to show they were ready to take the game. Andy Alonso took a nice pass from Esvin Mateo to beat the Lee keeper, and he found the back of the net for a goal less than a minute into the contest. Five minutes into the match, RHS made the score 2-0 when Alonso scored again for his second of three goals on the night.
Russellville goal keeper Jesus Betancourt had a clean match and kept the Generals off of the scoreboard for the entire game, while his teammates did a good job of ball control and smothering the Lee attack.
With 24:29 left in the opening half, a Cedrick Mojica shot on goal was denied, but Mateo was on the spot and converted the scoring chance to put RHS up 3-0. Later in the half, a Russellville corner kick led to the next goal.
Mateo scored again, this time on a header with 19:01 left in the half to basically put the game out of reach. Samuel Bahena then knocked in a penalty kick opportunity after a Lee hand ball with 30 seconds remaining in the first half of play.
The Golden Tigers (10-7-1) came out in the second half, and Alonso padded the lead. Francisco Matias scored two for Russellville. Finally, an Andreas Campos shot hit the post, and Bryan Sop was there to score on the rebound to finish the scoring with 2:38 to go in the game.
The win looks to get the Russellville team back on track after the boys fell in three of their past four games going into the playoffs. Some of their key players have missed time with injuries.
“We came in knowing that we haven’t played very well out of the past five games,” Russellville head coach Trey Stanford said. “We haven’t really finished and played very well, so we talked in the locker room before the game, and we really wanted to work on trying to control the ball a little more. We took care of business tonight and now, everybody knows what’s coming … the match with Randolph. That’s what everybody’s been waiting on all year.”
The Golden Tigers won’t have to wait long until they get their chance to face a Randolph team that defeated RHS in last season’s quarterfinal round of the playoffs by a 1-0 score. The defending state champs will come to Russellville May 1 for one of the biggest home matches in RHS soccer history.
Russellville’s girls end the season with a 7-8 record but showed good improvement by winning four of their past six matches and by making the playoffs.