Panthers come up short at Final Four

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Messenger file photo by Chris McCarthy

By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor

The 2024 Southside High soccer team’s season ended two wins shy of the team’s ultimate goal.
Facing Guntersville in the Class 5A state semifinals on Tuesday, May 7 in Huntsville, the Panthers (25-3-1) trailed 1-0 with 1:20 left in the second half when the match was called due to tornadoes in the area.
When the game resumed Thursday morning, Joel Herrera lined up for a free kick on the north side of the field from approximately 35 yards away from the Wildcats’ goal. Favero’s kick was on target in front of the Guntersville goal, but Southside could not convert before the ball slipped just outside the net.
“We played very well in that 1:20 but we just couldn’t capitalize,” said Southside head coach Randy Vice. “For the game, I thought our guys played hard but didn’t execute well in certain situations. We knew what Guntersville was going to do, which was to pack it in and limit our chances.”
Guntersville forward Brandon Manganaris accounted for the only goal of the game eight minutes into the second half off a save deflection by teammate A.J. Shumate. The Panthers appeared to score a few minutes later, but the goal was disallowed after the ball was ruled out of bounds while in the air.
Guntersville and Southside had three and two shots on goal, respectively. Hayes Cosby (pictured above) had two saves in goal.
“[Playing in the Final Four] was a new environment for all of our guys, and no matter how much we as coaches prepare them for it, there’s no substitute for experience, and Guntersville has been [to the Final Four] before.”
Besides setting a record for wins in a season, the Panthers won their sixth straight area championship, the first-ever Etowah County Tournament and the inaugural Rainbow City Classic Championship.
“I can’t say enough about how well these young men have played all year long, our seniors (Favero, Caleb Ogle, Sigurd Eik, Oskar Andersson, Isaiah Sanchez, Jonah Keenan, Ouzeiph Toumiba, Seth Hooks, Coben Guest, Alex Mullins) in particular,” said Vice. “I feel for our kids, but we’re going to go to work in a couple of weeks and prepare for next year. We’ll be moving up to Class 6A, but we’ve competed against and beaten every 6A team we’ve played this season. “We were very proud to represent the cities of Rainbow City and Southside, and we couldn’t have gotten as far as we did without all of the support we’ve received. I’ve also got to give a lot of credit to my assistant coaches at all levels (Randall Barnard, Daniel Doster, Spencer Barnard, Julio Herrera, Malik Landrum, Tiffany Crane and Logan Tucker.”

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