In the first annual alumni soccer game held at Pete Rich Stadium at Pell City High School on Saturday, February 7, the PCHS Varsity Soccer Team, a team made up of both the high school boy’s and girl’s varsity teams, won the first PCHS Alumni Soccer Classic under a beautifully warm, clear blue sky. They defeated their elder alum’s, 7-2, to declare bragging rights for the year.

The varsity Panther’s success was a result of some passionate effort put forth by the whole team over the course of the full 90-minutes. Behind creative and unselfish play the varsity co-ed team scored seven goals during the game against an understandably rusty alumni defense. The first goal scored on the day was a result of a direct free kick; senior varsity defender Kara Samoranski took the shot from 25 yards out, bending the ball around the wall beating the alumni starting goalkeeper, Brandy Hughes (c/o 1999), to the near post.

Varsity sophomore midfielder Jessica Cook followed with the next varsity team goal, running onto a well placed through ball from varsity senior midfielder John Krehbiel and took a narrow angled shot to the far post that went underneath the diving goalkeeper, making the score 2-0. The third goal for the PCHS varsity team was a result of another direct free kick just outside the penalty box. The 19-yard, low-driven shot, taken by varsity sophomore striker Brett Dexter was initiated off a dummy touch by junior forward Shon Stice and made the score 3-0.

The PCHS Alumni finally made it onto the scoreboard when attacking midfielder Erica Ogle (c/o 2008) picked up a wayward defensive clearance from alumni striker Erin Boyle’s (c/o 2007) corner kick. The poorly cleared ball bounced to Erica at the top of the ‘D’ and she sent a rifling shot past sprawling varsity senior goalkeeper Michael Morgan, who honestly, had no chance of making the save, and that made the score 3-1.

Varsity junior defender Nick Alverson was able to connect several passes with fellow junior midfielder Kyle Miller, each time down the flanks, showing a weakness in the alumni strategy. Varsity sophomore midfield Mackenzie Prosch combined with junior Chance Canary in what was a beautiful through ball, splitting the alumni defense, but goalkeeper Jeff Dargan was there to ensure that no damage was done.

With another goal late in the first half by the varsity team, this surely put the alumni even more on their heels. Varsity junior defender, Will Curran, intercepted an alumni pass at midfield and dribbled past several alumni defenders and ripped a low shot passed replacement alumni goalkeeper Jeff Dargan (c/o 2003), ending the first half by a score of 4-1, with the PCHS varsity in the lead.

The alumni came out strong the second half and immediately put pressure on the well conditioned varsity defense. Alumni coaches Sandra Coleman (c/o 2001) and Serge Brazzolotto must have said something to the alumni at halftime, because the unrelenting attacking pressure by the alumni midfielders Heather Lauderdale (c/o 2008), Chase Middleton (c/o 2004) and John Michael Brannon (c/o 2007) certainly caused some confusion with the varsity defense. A beautiful cross by alumni forward Joel Ramirez (c/o 2007) was superbly picked up and finished first-time, by fellow alumni forward Hector Rodriguez (c/o 2008).

Pell City High School Varsity Soccer Coaches James Bentley (Girls) and Florin Radu (Boys) ensured that the varsity attack would not let down. Crisp passing by varsity junior defender Nick Alverez and an aggressive maneuver by varsity senior midfielder John Krehbiel found fellow senior midfielder Connie Kempffer with lots of space down the left wing. Connie pushed pass alumni defender Leslie Edge (c/o 1998) and pulled the ball back to set up her right foot and took a low shot at alumni goalkeeper Brandy Hughes. Brandy was unable to get control of the low shot and girls varsity soccer teammate senior forward Kiki Berryhill was there to tap in the loose ball to make the score 5-2.

With the two teams fighting for every possession, varsity senior forward Jordan Murphree and sophomore forward Cara Rollo found themselves the target of many midfield crosses from varsity junior midfield Ryan Rich, junior defender Joel Hobson and sophomore defender Haley Funderburg. Varsity senior midfielder Jeffrey Poteracki and junior midfield Amber Shoemaker persistently attacked the reinforced alumni defensive line, only to come up short time and time again.

With 25-minutes to play in the second half, varsity sophomore striker Brett Dexter was fed a long beautiful pass by varsity junior midfielder Stephanie Brown. Brett took the ball and completely confounded alumni defenders with his footwork that freed him face-to-face with alumni goalkeeper Jeff Dargan. The alumni goalkeeper charged forward with poise to force Brett to take a shot, but the ever-confident striker just pushed the ball underneath the outstretched arms of the net-minder making the score 6-2.

After another strong attack by alumni Corey Funderburg (c/o 2005) and Bridgette Lindsey (c/o 1997) that replacement varsity junior goalkeeper Brianna Holman was able extinguish, varsity junior defender Matt Holmes sent a long clearing ball that found its way to varsity sophomore Brett Dexter. Brett once again took on a charging alumni defender, Chesley Crain (c/o 1998), and with only one more person to beat found himself, again, in front of the alumni goalkeeper Jeff Dargan. This time, in a very unselfish manner, Brett passed the ball across the six-yard line to find varsity junior forward Chance Canary who tapped in the final score of the night.

Though the final score does not reflect it, the alumni were, in no-ways, pushovers. Attacking runs by forwards Erin Boyle, Corey Funderburg, Chase Middleton, and Joel Ramirez were set up by some quality passing by midfielders Britton Falkner (c/o 2007), Amanda Bailey (c/o 2005), John Michael Brannon, and Valerie Brazzolotto (c/o 2005). Also ensuring the alumni attackers had opportunities to score against a very strong PCHS varsity defense were Steven Jacks (c/o 2006), Woody Moss (c/o 2001) and Jesse Hill (c/o 2007).

The alumni defense, which sometimes found itself with a mix of strong defenders and rusty defenders trying to play against a competition-ready varsity offense, was led by Luke Cothran (c/o 2007), Brittney Hobson (c/o 2007) Leslie Edge (c/o 1998), Thomas Traweek (c/o 2004), Candice Rodgers (c/o 1998), Brian Spraberry (c/o 2000) and Vince Allen (c/o 1999).

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