Prep Soccer Playoffs Not to be: Pelham upsets defending state champ Bearcats in 6A state soccer final | CullmanSense

Prep Soccer Playoffs

Not to be: Pelham upsets defending state champ Bearcats in 6A state soccer final

Johnny Thornton

HUNTSVILLE - Two unusual goals were enough for Pelham to prevent the Cullman Bearcats from taking home their second straight Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) Class 6A soccer championship.

A goal by Armando Valencia from near midfield midway in the first half put the Panthers ahead 1-0. They finished off a 2-0 triumph on a goal, credited to Jose Jimenez, that was deflected into the net by a Cullman defender.

"It was kind of mental," Cullman coach Casey Harbin said after the game. "We let off the gas following the first goal. We checked out."

Cullman was never able to execute the same game plan the Bearcats did in Friday's 5-0 shutout of Carver in the semifinals, where they utilized their speed and quickness to create numerous opportunities to score against the school from Birmingham.

Pelham neutralized the Bearcats' leading playoff scorer, Miguel Tizapa. Tizapa had only one attempt the entire match, with the Bearcats unable to capitalize in six shot attempts vs. Pelham goalkeeper Seth Torman.

None of the shot opportunities by the Bearcats were open looks. Most of the attempts drew a crowd of Pelham defenders, with several shots being blocked and never getting toward the net.

Cullman spent much of the second half on the defensive side, dealing with two yellow cards that forced them to play the ball the length of the field.

Cole Gerding had the most shot attempts in the championship with two, while Isaac Rodriguez, Luis Rodriguez, Joel Sanchez and Tizapa had the other shot attempts.

Jimenez led Pelham with five shots on Cullman goalie Jaron Potter with Valencia getting four opportunities. The Panthers outshot the Bearcats 16-6.

Braxton Jeffcoat was selected the state tournament MVP.

This is Pelham's first state championship.

Cullman put together a solid run to reach Huntsville, opening the playoffs with a 4-3 win in overtime at Fort Payne. That was followed by a 2-0 win in the second round vs. Florence and a 2-0 shutout in the quarterfinals at 6A, Area 14 champion Albertville.

The Bearcats had balanced performances in the postseason by Tizapa, Isaac Rodriguez, Luis Rodriguez, Sanchez, Potter, Washington Sheffield, Zane Manley, Connor Moore, Neil Norris and Peyton Brown to put them in a position that no one associated with the program expected when the season began in February.

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  • Johnny Thornton
    Cullman's Peyton Brown accepts the runner-up trophy from the AHSAA
  • Johnny Thornton
  • Johnny Thornton