High School Soccer

Cougars earn breakthrough win

by Chris Goltermann


Newnan senior Marque’l Gould, at left, tries to get a foot on a loose ball. 

For one of Newnan’s soccer teams, a victory — particularly in Area 3-AAAAAA — was a long time coming.

As for the other, it was a short time. Quite literally.

Long after the Lady Cougars needed all of 18 minutes of play to dispose of Langston Hughes’ girls for a 10-0 victory, Newnan’s boys finally got a chance to experience a victory of its own in 2014 while using a second-half surge en route to a 4-0 win capped off with a postgame water-bucket shower for first-year head coach Justin Romero.

Snapping a seven-game losing streak to start the year, the Cougars put together a season-best effort offensively after being outscored 40-5 while facing teams with a combined record of 34-16-1 so far.

“I’m proud of the boys,” said a soaked Romero on a much milder winter evening than the team’s opening seven games. “It’s been a long time coming. Every game we’re getting better.”

After consecutive region losses to Westlake (2-2) and a Tri-Cities team that knocked off East Coweta’s boys 2-1 on Tuesday, Newnan was able to move to 1-2 in 3-AAAAAA and 1-7 overall.

The Cougars broke through in the win column in their eighth game of the year after taking control of a scoreless game at halftime. The team roared out of the break with a goal in the opening minute of the second half when a ball off Fletcher Hall’s foot deflected off Hughes’ keeper and into the net.

Newnan’s boys, which relied heavily on senior striker Nick Pelerose last season for scoring, has been forced to spread it around among a lineup that includes 10 seniors and five juniors.

On Tuesday, however, the Cougars won with a different scorer on all four of its goals, all of which came in the final 40 minutes.

Newnan had its chances before halftime, but missed at least two golden opportunities to get on the scoreboard first. Senior Marque’l Gould beat Hughes keeper to a loose ball inside the 16-yard box but fired wide of the near post on an off-balance shot. Eight minutes later, junior Cody Lee headed the ball over the crossbar on a ball from the right side with the Panthers out of position again.

Hall’s tally immediately to open the second half provided a jump-start, however. After struggling to stay onsides for the first 40 minutes of play, the Cougars’ timing improved on through balls inside Hughes territory.

“We’ve struggled early in the season. We’re trying to play a different style than they were last year,” said Romero.

Senior Brandon Wulf made it 2-0 just over 10 minutes later when he raced down a bouncing ball in front of the Panthers goal from a Newnan clear for a header.

A breakout pass down the right wing set up a third goal when Hall was taken down inside the box after breaking free. Senior teammate Arturo Mata made Hughes pay by firing a low-hard shot into the left corner on a successful penalty kick.

The momentum carried on for a fourth tally less than four minutes later when Wulf pushed a ball past Hughes’ defense into space, allowing senior Jacob Morgan to fire a right-footed shot into the low-left corner.

Up next, however, is a much bigger task in 3-AAAAAA play for both Newnan lineups, who will travel to Douglas County next Tuesday. The Tigers led the area with a 2-0 record heading into Tuesday’s trip to Westlake following wins over Tri-Cities and East Coweta.

NEWNAN GIRLS 10, LANGSTON HUGHES 0: The Lady Cougars may have had a tougher post-game practice following Tuesday’s win, scoring seven goals in seven minutes to spark an early halftime, before needing just 11 more minutes to invoke the mercy rule.

Newnan stayed unbeaten in 3-AAAAAA play at 2-0 while improving to 4-3 overall.

Head coach Frankey Henderson, who had his girls stay afterward to get in some extra work in preparation for next week’s trip to Douglas County (5-2-1, 1-1) juggled the lineup as much as possible, giving senior reserve Emi Exner a chance to score the team’s final goal off a feed from sophomore Emma Morris, a starting defender playing up top in the second half.

Exner was coming off a penalty kick attempt that skittered just wide of the goal.

Early on, senior forward Erin Bright and sophomore midfielder Teghan Anguilm dominated offensively while combining for the final three goals of the first half.

It ended when Bright tapped in a rebound of Anguilm’s shot on goal at the seven-minute mark of the game.

Anguilm then opened the second-half scoring on a feed from senior Allie Thomas in the 12th minute of play. Only 21 seconds later, junior Cassidy Spradlin broke in off right wing for a long shot to make it 9-0.

EAST COWETA GIRLS 10, TRI-CITIES 0: The Lady Indians equally kept pace in Area 3-AAAAAA while staying unbeaten at 3-0 following a road win that ended by mercy rule.

Morgan Haase had three goals and seniors Anna Lauzon and Nikki Brandley also finished with three points in the victory.

Lauzon had two goals and an assist while Brandley finished with a goal and two assists.

Goal scorers for East Coweta (4-2 overall) also included Haley Roberts, Katie Sutehrland, Serenity Waters and Kellsey Weaver while Bridgett Frame, Sutherland, Lynnsey Spooner and Tara Frederico all added assists.

TRI-CITIES BOYS 2, EAST COWETA 1: The Indians fell further behind in the Area 3-AAAAAA standings dropping its second straight region game following an unbeaten streak dating back to the 2008 season.

East Coweta’s boys have now dropped four straight one-goal games to opponents with a combined record of 19-7-1 and will next face unbeaten Columbus (7-0) on Friday.

Justin Sharpe scored for the Indians, now 1-2 in the area and 2-4 overall.

Tri-Cities continued its impressive start while moving to 2-1 in the area and 6-1 overall following its fourth consecutive win.

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