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SOCCER: Courtney goes out at Ridgeland with a high-five

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ROSSVILLE - Evan Courtney's last football game on the turf at Panther Stadium ended with a memorable moment as the senior's extra point with just over 30 seconds to play proved to be the game-winning point in Ridgeland's 28-27 state semifinal victory over Marist.

Six months later and his final soccer game on Ridgeland's turf turned out to be pretty special as well.

The senior striker scored his team's first five goals and assisted on the last one as the Panthers said good-bye to their senior class with a resounding 6-1 victory over Cedartown on Tuesday night.

Courtney broke out into a laugh went asked to decide which was the better moment.

"Probably soccer," he said after a few seconds of thought. "I've played soccer a little more (than football) and I've always enjoyed the game."

"He's technically so good, especially with his first touch," said Ridgeland head coach Tim Sparks of Courtney, who is believed to have set an individual school record for most goals in single match with his performance on Tuesday. "He has incredible technical skills and he has the ability to beat one and sometimes two defenders. He makes it look easy a lot of time and he can fun to watch."

Courtney's first tally of the night, off an assist by Blakely Epperson, looked as if it would be the only goal of the first half. But with just seconds remaining before intermission, Courtney took a pass from Aaron Parden and blasted in past the Bulldogs' keeper on what turned out to be the final play of the half.

He would cap his fifth hat trick of the season just five minutes into the second half, but his fourth goal of the game at the 60-minute mark showed off his considerable skills.

Chest-trapping a high punt from the Cedartown keeper, Courtney dropped the ball to his feet and dribbled some 10 yards before splitting two defenders with ease. He would race into the Bulldog box before burying a blast past the keeper to cap the outstanding individual effort.

He would add his fifth goal just four minutes later, and displayed some nifty give-and-go passes with Epperson in the 70th minute before Epperson did the honors for the Panthers final point of the night.

"He's had opportunities like that all season long," Sparks added, "but a lot of times the ball would just seem to find the keeper. Tonight, though, he kept finding the net.

"I thought we did a great job winning the ball in the midfield, especially Blakely. All of our seniors played great tonight and everyone supported them. I appreciate that and I know our seniors did as well."

The Bulldogs would score in the 74th minute to break up the shutout bid.

Ridgeland (6-7) will finish the season on Friday with a match at LaFayette.

Cedartown girls 4, Ridgeland 2

The news was not all good for Ridgeland fans, however, as Cedartown's Lady Bulldogs scored three times in the game's final 12 minutes to pull out the victory.

Dana Whittington scored early for the Lady Panthers (3-9-1) after an assist from Saralin Stubbs, but the Lady Bulldogs would answer and send the match to halftime tied 1-1.

Ally Johnson's unassisted marker in the second half gave the home team a 2-1 lead, a lead it enjoyed until the final portion of the match when two quick goals pushed Cedartown in front, 3-2.

Ridgeland missed a chance to tie the match in the 77th minute and the Lady Bulldogs would put the game away seconds later on the counterattack, beating Ridgeland keeper Abby Martenn for the decisive fourth goal .

Martenn would finish with nine saves for the Lady Panthers, who will play at Christian Heritage on Thursday before traveling to LaFayette on Friday.