Darlington’s girls and boys made the short trip to Pepperell on Wednesday and got out of Lindale with a pair of Region 7-A Division I wins.
The Lady Tigers held off a late charge from Pepperell for a well-earned 3-2 victory, while the Darlington boys took an early lead and controlled possession for much of the game in a 4-1 win.
Darlington girls 3, Pepperell 2
The Lady Tigers built a two-goal lead early in the first half and then led 3-1 late in the game, but Pepperell refused to go away quietly, cutting the deficit to one on both occasions. Darlington was able to use strong defense at the end, however, to crush the hopes of the Lady Dragons’ comeback.
Darlington (7-2, 3-1) scored a goal in the sixth minute, thanks to AB Holcombe, for an early 1-0 lead, then added to its advantage with a goal from Gwyn Traylor in the 16th minute.
Pepperell (7-4-1, 2-2) kept battling and Aidyn Hurst was able to capitalize in the 24th minute by rocketing a shot from an angle near the top of the box over the goalkeeper, off the crossbar and into the net to make it 2-1.
After taking the 2-1 lead to the half, the Lady Tigers had several attack chances early in the second half, with Aryana Patel corralling a loose ball in the box and depositing it into the net to make it 3-1 in the 63rd minute.
Once again, Hurst weaved through the defense and found an opportunity to get a shot off and past the Darlington keeper to make it 3-2 in the 78th minute, but the Lady Dragons couldn’t find the equalizer in the remaining minutes.
Pepperell had a scary situation before the game as one of its players had to be taken away by ambulance after suffering a medical emergency in the locker room. According to the coaching staff, she was alert and doing well later as she was examined at the hospital.
“Hats off to the Pepperell girls for playing a hard-fought game after having a pregame health issue with one of their players,” Darlington coach Al Shorey said. “I thought our girls handled the situation well and played extremely hard. We got goals from three different players and had contributions from many others. Gwyn Traylor was strong for us in the midfield. Jennifer Martinez was dynamic in goal. She had eight saves on the night.”
Pepperell coach Deana Spranza said she was proud of the way her team played especially under the circumstances.
“Down three starters and having what we had happened before the game, I couldn’t have asked for my girls to play any harder than they did,” Spranza said. “Soccer is such a mental game, and for them to overcome what they had to today and play like they did makes me so proud. We kept reminding ourselves that we were playing for Jenna every time we could. It took a lot of character for our girls to play like they did tonight.”
Darlington will host Armuchee in another region game on Friday at 5:30 p.m. Pepperell will host region foe Chattooga on Friday at 5 p.m.
Darlington boys 4, Pepperell 1
The Tigers controlled possession for much of the game and had several offensive chances, capitalizing on four of them, to earn a solid road win.
Darlington (6-3, 3-1 7-A Division I) scored a goal in the seventh minute off the foot of Evan Sumner to take an early lead, but Pepperell answered right back with a goal of its own, thanks to Issrael Perez sending one into the net in the 16th minute to even the game at 1-1.
The Tigers didn’t hang their heads long after allowing the goal as they went back to the other end of the field and connected on a corner kick to make it 2-1. Ryland Scott sent it into the box for the assist, and Sumner headed it in for his second goal.
Darlington added one more to its lead late in the first half as Scott curled a hard shot past the Dragons’ keeper to make it 3-1 in the 38th minute. Peyton Sumner had the assist.
Pepperell (1-9, 0-4) had a tough time putting together many runs offensively in the second half as the Tigers’ defense was stingy. Darlington added one more score to its total on a goal in the 73rd minute from Peyton Sumner.
The game was called with around 3 minutes remaining after a Darlington player suffered a medical issue in the bench area. He was tended to by trainers and coaches before eventually being taken from the field in an ambulance. Darlington coaches said he was doing well after the game and being treated at the hospital.
“It was great to come away with a solid region win,” Darlington coach Lucas Levesque said. “Our team played well and were able to create some nice scoring opportunities, led by Peyton and Evan Sumner. The game ended with what appeared to be a serious health issue for one of our athletes. I appreciate all of the support of the community in getting him treated. He is stable and doing well.”
Darlington goalkeeper Jacob Blatt handled many of the chances he had against Pepperell’s attack, recording three saves in the win.
Pepperell’s Eliot Goggans also played well despite the final score as he turned away many other goal-scoring opportunities for Darlington with multiple saves.
Darlington will be back on its home field Friday to host Armuchee at 7:30 p.m. in a region game. Pepperell will host Chattooga on Friday at 7 p.m. in a 7-A Division I contest of its own.