Prep Soccer: Newnan struggles in losses to Union GroveBy CHRIS GOLTERMANN
Union Grove soccer teams did the brunt of their damage at opposite ends of a doubleheader sweep over Newnan on Friday at Drake Stadium.
In both instances, though, home lineups struggled to find the back of the net.
“We just can’t score,” said Lady Cougars head coach Frankey Henderson, who was without junior striker Jordan Ponce and also down two defenders while juggling the lineup. “I thought we played right with them.”
The Cougars, meanwhile, watched Union Grove’s boys flip the field following a pair of early scoring chances for a two-goal deficit in the first 10 minutes off a 2-1 loss to the undefeated Wolverines.
Both teams fell to 4-2 overall with the loss following Region 3-AAAAAA victories over Tri-Cities on Tuesday.
Together the two outcomes presented a frustrating night for Newnan teams, especially on offense. The zero on the right top side of the Drake Stadium scoreboard didn’t budge for nearly two full games until Cougar senior sniper Nick Pelerose finally was able to lift a shot into the far right corner in the 74th minute of play.
By then, however, the Cougars had been forced to play hurry up while unable to capitalize on several prime opportunities to get back into a 2-0 game at halftime. None were more pivotal than Pelerose’s penalty shot in the 46th minute when he was tripped up by Union Grove goalkeeper Justin Fazier after staring down an open net.
The Newnan senior, however, had his blast to the left side knocked down by Fazier before being unable to tap the rebound home after it quickly caromed back toward his feet.
It was that kind of night, tough, for the home team.
The Cougars had the first two scoring chances of the game including a breakaway two minutes in when Tyler Heard sent Pelerose on a run toward Fazier that was deflected away for a corner kick.
Just over four minutes later, Pelerose eluded a the charging Wolverine keeper but couldn’t put enough leg into a shot before Union Grove defenders cleared it from the path of an open net.
From there, the play shifted in the opposite direction with a wave of Union Grove attackers. It ended with senior Kyle Bullard firing a hard shot into the corner of the net for a 1-0 Wolverine lead.
Newnan’s boys kept the pressure on, however, to earn another corner kick. But again, play quickly changed direction before Union Grove sprung Nick Echols alone on goal. Echols made a quick tap to his right before tucking the ball inside the left post to make it 2-0 in the 11th minute.
The Lady Cougars defense, led by Anna Lawrence and senior keeper Rebecca Whitlock, held their ground until the final 10 minutes in a hard-fought game that got chippy on more than one occasion.
Around the 65th minute, Newnan senior center midfielder and co-captain Julie Whatley launched a long shot that clanked off the top-left of the crossbar and bounced out of bounds. Whatley, who played nearly the full 80 minutes, at one point late as a ball rolled out of bounds, crumpled to the turf exhausted.
“She played great tonight. We just didn’t have any subs to put in for her,” said Henderson.
The Lady Wolverines finally wore Newnan’s defense down in the closing minutes when Dominique Fletcher converted a touch off a cross from the left side.
Just over two minutes later, with the Lady Cougars pressing even harder, a handball just outside the box set up Nikki Lefevre’s goal off a direct kick where the Union Grove player tucked the ball left of Newnan’s wall of defenders and inside the post.