The big night had finally arrive. Tigers versus Panthers at Huntsville High. This would be the first meeting of the two teams since the "COVID-19" finally that ended the season of 2020 for all teams. The Tiger entered the game 1-0 in area while Huntsville came in as area leaders with a 2-0 area record. Both teams were in great form. Grissom on an 8 game win streak, while the Panthers entered off of 2 big area wins. Both teams are recognized as to of the top contenders in North Alabama but none of that matters now. Only what done on the field tonight will matter.
The ref blows the whistle and the two cats of Huntsville are on their way. The Tigers start the game a little slow; a little late to the challenges, a little slow when in possession, and they struggle to consistently build attacks using consecutive passes as they've been accustom to in recent games. Both teams get there changes though. The game stays nil-nil until about 10 minutes left in the first half. The Tigers successfully defend a Huntsville counter attack. The ball is pass back to the keeper. The keeper opts to hit it long but it doesn't go very long. In fact in fall right to one of the Huntsville players about 25 yards out. A pass is made and shortly after the Panthers land a gut shot to the Tigers. A decent low driven shot from about 25 yards out finds the bottom right corner and the Huntsville takes a 1-0 lead. The Panthers sprint off to celebrate with the rest of it's pack. Of course some things were yelled, gestures where made towards the men and fans in orange the boys line up to continue the game.
They say a team is most venerable after goal has been score and that theory unfortunately held true in favor of the Panthers. Shortly after the Tigers lose possession of the ball after a failed attempt to switch the field after a throw in. The all falls to the left winger of Huntsville outside the box and the rest in history. A few dribbles towards the goal to get around the last defender followed by a convincing left footed strike across goal put the Panthers of Huntsville ahead 2-0 just before half. The Tigers manage to finish the 1st half with without conceding anymore but it's obviously the last 10 minutes had shaken them up as they went into the break.
After some conversations with a very animated Coach Shields at the half the Tigers come out onto the pitch with a new energy that included some changed personnel and a few formational adjustments. In second half the Tigers seem to shake off the nerves and were able to get more control of the game. They looked more confident in possession, they build more attacking from the defensive 3rd than they did in the 1st half and they defended better in their final 3rd which caused the Panthers some problems.
Finally about 15 minutes into second half the Tiger get on the board. Some smart combinations and dribbling on the Tigers left wing from Joey Moore and Jackson Davis commit the Huntsville defender into committing a foul that give the Tigers a free just outside the left side of the Panthers box. Jorge puts in a low driven cross that bounces into the box. The ball is partially cleared, Josh Christie flicks back toward the left side of the 6 yard box to Alexei who heads to the far post. The pass final Tahir who heads it over the keeper into the left side of the goal. The Tigers sprint back to the half as the men in orange are bring the score to 1-2 and now we have ourselves a game.
The Tigers continue to press aggressively and successfully defend a few difficulty counter attacks that created good opportunities for the once Grissom now Huntsville striker, and about 12 minutes later it happens... Aubrey Tedesco cuts out a Panther attempted and finds Mahrk, Mahrk finds Logan just outside of the, Logan sets a streaking Jackson Davis who takes two touches; the first to penetrate through the back line of the Panthers & the second to find the back of the the next with a wonderful across goal left footed striker that pieces the Panther goal. The away fans erupt as do the of players as the Tigers equalize to make things 2-2 to complete the come back. Let's Go!
Both teams continue to create chances but neither one can break through as the final whistle blows at 2-2. Since this is an area game, there must be a winner, so overtime it is. The neutral fans will feel like they are definitely getting their money worth tonight. Overtime is golden gold for these game and both tire teams give everything in extra time without conceding the goal. The result after the two 5 minute half stays 2-2 and the official informs both teams that kicks from the mark will be used to determine the winners. The round result are listed below. Huntsville shoots first.
R1 - HHS: Make GHS: Make 1-1
R2 - HHS: Make GHS: Saved 2-1
R3 - HHS: Miss GHS: Make 2-2
R4 - HHS: Make GHS: Make 3-3
R5 - HHS: Make GHS: Make 4-4
R6 - HHS: Make GHS: Make 5-5
R7 - HHS: Miss GHS: Save 5-5
R8 - HHS: Make GHS: Miss 6-5
The Panther come away on top after some decent takes and saves, but the Tigers represented well and showed a lot heart and determination to get back into the game but end the end they come a few inches short. They may have lost the battle but the war is still up for grabs in the playoff area races. Until next time #TigersUp