Photo: Southside High’s Lauren Brewer advances the ball as teammate Savannah Knighten looks on during the Lady Panthers’ 2-1 shootout loss to Gardendale in the Class 6A girls’ soccer semifinals on Friday, May 11, at Huntsville’s John Hunt Soccer Complex. (Mike Goodson/Messenger)
By Mike Goodson/Sports Correspondent
The Southside girls soccer team fell short in its quest for a Class 6A state championship, as the Lady Panthers fell to Gardendale, 2-1, in a second overtime shootout on May 11 at Huntsville’s John Hunt Soccer Complex.
The game was a thriller from start to finish, with Southside scoring the game-tying goal with only 1:40 remaining in regulation play. The Lady Panthers worked the ball near the Gardendale goal when Rebecca Johnson took a pass and buried the ball in the net.
Gardendale’s Peyton Miller had given the Lady Rockets (14-5-1) a 1-0 lead with 36:41 remaining in the opening half on a corner kick.
The game went to sudden-death overtime, and after two five-minute OT periods the game went to a shootout. Savanna Blackwell, Lauren Brewer, Hallie-Kate Smith and Peyton Miller scored for Southside. Gardendale however matched Southside goal for goal.
The second shootout saw Southside score on their first three kicks by Anna Motley, Caroline Prince and Camryn Davis, but Gardendale goalkeeper Lauren Motes stopped the final Lady Panther shots for the victory.
Motes finished with four saves during regulation for Gardendale, while Southside goalie Savanna Blackwell had three saves.
The Lady Panthers, who made it to the state championship game last season, finished with a record of 17-2-1.
Southside head coach Tiffany Cargill had nothing but praise for her team following the narrow loss.
“Our girls kept fighting; when we got down, they forged past adversity. This is a hard pill to swallow but our future looks bright.”
Cargill added that she not surprised that Southside returned to the Final Four even after losing nine players to graduation.
“We played four eighth graders this season,” she said.
Gardendale lost to John Carroll Catholic, 2-0, in the state finals last Saturday (May 12).