As the clock dwindled in the final minutes of the first round of the soccer 4A playoffs between Sumrall and Greene County on Monday night, the Bobcats dropped to their knees in heartbreak. The Bobcats' last-minute effort to the tie score and send the game in overtime instead resulted in the Wildcats driving downfield and capping off a 5-3 comeback win.
The loss not only knocked Sumrall out of the playoffs but also leaves the Bobcats still in search of the program's first-ever playoff win.
"We've played some tough ones," Sumrall coach Todd Siders said. "We've had some heartbreakers. The past two playoff games we played, we could've very easily won, and we don't. At some point, somebody has to step up and take the reins to change that fortune. I don't think it's bad luck. It's a matter of not performing.
"The bottom line is that we didn't play well enough to win, and that's what it came down to."
Sumrall opened the game with a 3-1 lead in the first half. The Bobcats quickly got on the board at the start of the game as Cole Cooper scored on a breakaway shot that ricocheted off one of Greene County's defenders and into the net.
"We practice that religiously," Siders said. "We want to play the bylines. We want to get down the flanks and put the ball in dangerous positions. Cole has a tremendous amount of speed. There are not many people that can run with him."
Greene County tied the game in the 13th minute with a penalty kick. The Bobcats managed to get back on the board with a penalty kick due to Greene County's goalkeeper catching a ball outside of the box. Barrett Breazeale took advantage of the out of position goalkeeper and quickly placed the ball and scored to push the lead 2-0.
"Very, very smart play," Siders said. "Barrett is a very smart player that knows the game very well. Honestly, I wasn't thinking about it, and then I saw him put it down and saw it was open. That was very smart of him to give us the lead. A great goal."
In the 36th minute, Cooper shot the ball again, but Wildcats' goalkeeper managed to deflect it. However, Cade Beech to advantage of the deflection and scored to give the Bobcats the 3-1 lead at the half. According to Siders, the message to his team at halftime was to score and keep Greene County from scoring in the first 15 minutes of the second half.
Just like Siders predicted, the game was decided in the first 15 minutes of the second half. At the start of the half, Sumrall had an opportunity to score but missed a wide-open goal in the first 10 minutes. Greene County then managed to seize the momentum and scored two goals in a span of three minutes.
In the 50th minute, the Wildcats flipped the field and scored on a one-on-one matchup against Sumrall's goalkeeper. In almost the same play, Greene County had the same one-on-one matchup and scored again as the ball bounced off a Sumrall player and into the net.
"We told them that we had to get four before they got to two," Siders said. "We had a chance to get the fourth, and we don't. Then we concede two in the first 10 minutes, and then the whole game flipped on its head.
"The story of the game for is when it's 3-1 with five minutes into the half, we get the one right in front of the goal, and we don't finish. If it's 4-1, that game is probably over. We told them that in the first 15 minutes of the second half that we can't concede, and we conceded two goals. Then we were just on our heels the rest of the game."
Tied at 3-3, Greene County took the lead with a late penalty kick in the 76th minute.
"You feel good up two goals," Siders said. "If you would have told me before the game that we scored three before the half, then I would've told you we would've won. Our defense hasn't played like that this whole year, so it was a bad time to do that.
"They played hard, but I think it was that we just made way too many mistakes. If you don't perform, you lose, and we didn't perform well enough."