AHSAA 6A, Area 14 Girls Soccer
At Cullman High Complex:
Albertville 0 3 - 3 (8-7, 1-1)
Cullman 4 1 - 5 (9-6-3, 3-0)
Cullman goal at 36:13 in 1st (Own goal)
Cullman goal at 31:59 in 1st (Abigail Branham)
Cullman goal at 24:22 in 1st (Branham)
Cullman goal at 11:34 in 1st (Branham)
Albertville goal at 23:20 in 2nd
Albertville goal at 18:42 in 2nd
Albertville goal at 10:22 in 2nd
Cullman goal at 5:43 in 2nd (Branham)
SHOTS ON GOAL: Albertville 31, Cullman 15
FLASH NOTES: With first place at stake in a showdown between 6A, Area 14 rivals Cullman and Albertville Thursday afternoon, a great first half was accomplished by the Lady Bearcats with a 4-goal lead, thanks to a hat trick by Branham and great play at the net from goalie Gracie Barksdale.
Barksdale fought off 11 shots by Albertville in the opening half, including a penalty kick at the 19:44 mark after a yellow card was issued against Cullman coach Jacob Brown.
But the momentum shifted to the visitors from Marshall County in the second half as they continued to attack well into Cullman's zone and limit the Lady Bearcats to four shots on goal through halfway of the final 40 minutes.
"We came out strong. We were prepared for this game," Brown said. "Then we feel asleep for the final 15 minutes of the first half and that carried over into the second half. We seemed to have a false sense of security with the lead. We faltered until we got that insurance goal to give us a two-goal lead late in the game."
Albertville attempted 20 shots on goal vs. Barksdale in the second half and scored three times in a span of 13:00 to close the margin to 4-3.
Poise returned to the side of the Lady Bearcats as Barksdale stopped five shot opportunities in the remaining 10 minutes.
Stepping up in helping Barksdale defensively were Ninfa Rodriguez, Abgail Lawson, Mary Lunsford, Jorryn Barnette, Addie Echols, Jade Sanford and Anna Hulsey.
The clincher was a rebound off a shot by Branham that went into the net in a crowd of Albertville defenders with 5:43 remaining, giving Cullman a two-goal edge in which they were able to maintain in crunch time.
Cullman takes the lead in 6A, Area 14 vs. Albertville. Both came into the encounter ranked in the Top 10 of 6A Soccer with Cullman 9th and Albertville 10th.
The Lady Bearcats will make a return trip to Albertville next Thursday (April 12) trying to clinch the area regular season title and get a home match for the first round of the AHSAA playoffs on the weekend of April 27.
Photo 1: Cullman's Mary Lunsford (14) advances the ball downfield vs. Albertville.
Photo 2: Cullman Lady Bearcats huddle prior to match time with Albertville Thursday.
Photo 3: Jorryn Barnette (15) of Cullman battles an Albertville player for the ball with Addie Echols (18) trailing on the play.
Sportspage photos by Johnny Thornton