A few players fell to the ground, where they became motionless. Hands or jerseys covered faces as the shock set in: it was over.
The Westside boys soccer team had a tough end to the season Thursday night, as it lost at home to Toombs County, 3-2, in the first round of the Class AA state playoffs.
“They’ve got a good club, good players,” Toombs County coach J.B. Cone said. “It was well-played. It was a lot of finesse and heart.”
The Patriots were region champions but never led Thursday. Two goals by Gilbert Zamorano sparked the Bulldogs, who led by two twice.
Westside showed fight to cut the deficit to a goal twice with goals from Tyler Brabenec and Isaac Oluwasakin, but the tying goal never materialized.
In the desperate last few minutes, the Patriots hoped to hurry down the field for a chance to tie, but passes were blocked.
They did get a final shot with less than 10 seconds to go, but it was wide.
The Westside girls team’s season ended at the hands of Toombs County keeper Katie Hayes, as the Lady Patriots lost in penalty kicks after playing to a scoreless tie in regulation and overtime.
Toombs County took the penalty kicks, 3-1, to win the first-round match.
For the game-clinching save, Hayes safely blocked an attempt as she got in front of a low kick.
“We’re in the Sweet 16 because of you! We’re in the Sweet 16 because of you!” the Lady Bulldogs’ Lauren Powell told Hayes after the win.
Hayes and Westside counterpart Kendra Broadbent both had clutch saves during the match. Hayes tipped one Westside shot over the bar by going high in the first half; Broadbent was similarly stingy.
But Westside couldn’t solve Hayes and Toombs County went 3 for 3 on its penalty kicks.
“It’s kind of tough,” Lady Patriots coach Larry McAlevy said. “But it had to be decided. But it was a good season.”