Whitewater's season comes to an end, 2-1 to Lakeside-Dekalb in semifinals

Tue, 05/06/2008 - 10:00pm
By: Kevin Wandra

The Whitewater Wildcats got off to a rough start this season, losing six of their first 11 games, including five to state-ranked opponents.

By the end of the regular season, Whitewater had showed significant improvement, going 6-4-2 and advancing all the way to the Class AAAA state semifinals, where it saw its impressive turnaround come to an end Tuesday with a 2-1 overtime loss to the top-ranked Lakeside-Dekalb Vikings at Adams Memorial Stadium.

The Vikings will play at Southeast Whitfield on Friday for the state championship. Southeast Whitfield defeated previously undefeated Thomas County Central 1-0 in the other Class AAAA semifinal match Tuesday.

Lakeside’s victory was its second over Whitewater this season; Lakeside defeated Whitewater 2-1 in penalty kicks March 3.

Whitewater had numerous scoring opportunities in the rematch, but only one of its shots found the back of the net; standout senior defender Kyle Adams, a Wake Forest signee, booted a 40-yard free kick into a crowd of players in front of Lakeside’s net, and Whitewater’s Andy DeBusk arose from the pack and headed the ball high into the net for a 1-0 lead with 20:45 remaining in the first half.

The Vikings answered with a goal-scoring header of their own less than four minutes later, when Mark Talgo skied high to head the ball past Whitewater goalkeeper Vincent Easterbrook at the 16:51 mark.

Each team went through a scoring drought until Lakeside’s Taylor Cardwell, with the ball in front of Whitewater’s net, beat Whitewater’s other goalkeeper, Daniel Bowler, with a match-winning shot to the right side with 1:22 left in the second overtime.

Whitewater coach Shane Pulliam blamed his team’s loss, in part, on the atrocious field conditions at Adams Memorial Stadium, which has numerous divots scattered across the field.

Since Lakside was a higher seeded team — it entered the playoffs as a No. 1 seed from Region 6-AAAA; Whitewater was a No. 4 seed from Region 2-AAAA — it was allowed to pick where the teams would play. Its choice was Adams Memorial Stadium, where, according to Pulliam, the Vikings have played probably five to six matches this season.

“I hate to blame the field conditions, but it’s a hard field to play on because of all the strange bounces that happen there,” Pulliam said. “The ball moves around a lot there. We just didn’t make adjustments to the bounce of the ball. Lakeside has played on it more than we have.”

Both teams came close to putting in the match-clinching goal in the second half, but exceptional plays by Bowler and Lakeside goalkeeper Rick Arrogui kept the match tied.

Bowler made a fully extended diving save on a breakaway, deflecting the ball out of play, then leaped among a host of player to snag the ensuing throw-in with 21 minutes to go.

Adams came within inches of throwing the ball past Arrogui on a throw-in from the left sideline, but Arrogui leaped to barely get his right hand on the ball and deflect it over the crossbar with 8:49 left.

Bowler stepped up again with another brilliant play late in the first half of overtime, stonewalling a breakaway with a diving save.

It was a disappointing loss for Pulliam, but he felt his team, which ended the season 11-8-2, still had a memorable year.

“We had a great year,” Pulliam said. “We played the toughest schedule in the sate in any classification for the second year in a row. Every game we lost was either by a goal or in PKs. We were ahead in almost all those games.”

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Submitted by dusty1 on Wed, 05/07/2008 - 3:55pm.

Man- whats up with soccer coaches down your way- first the Starr's Mill coach tries to rewin the great Friday night quarterfinal game with Lakeside in the paper by saying "it was the most unfair result ever" in the AJC Saturday- that was a home game at Starr's Mill with a very loud and very nasty crowd, the first half was pretty much even, the 2nd half definetly was strongly controlled by Starr's Mill but many of the shots taken were not close, many of the corners were caused by excellent defense, the Lakeside goalie made 1 great save, the crosses were cleared and no mention was made of the just missed Lakeside goal at the end of regular time, also the discounted goal was without a doubt offside- hey coach- how about some sportsmanship and give the team that just beat you some credit- now I read that the Whitewater coach is blaming their semifinal loss on field conditions- their 2nd loss to Lakeside- your teams play soccer really well, they challenged and extended Lakeside in both games, from what my son told me (yes he played in both games) both teams players played hard and clean from whistle to whistle- yet all we hear from the coaches are complaints, justifications, and no mention of Lakesides efforts- Wow- our soccer programs are very close in ability but miles apart in sportsmanship

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