PREP SOCCER: Lady Bearcats lose heartbreaker, 2-1, to Hartselle in round 2 of playoffs; Saints best Elkmont, 3-1, in round 1

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Cullman's Jorryn Barnette races Hartselle to the ball in Tuesday night's 2-1 loss. (Nick Griffin for The Tribune)

HARTSELLE – The Cullman girls’ soccer team dropped its round two matchup on the road against Hartselle in the AHSAA 6A State Playoffs Tuesday night. The Lady ‘Cats took an early 1-0 lead on a goal from Abby Branham, but in the end, the Tigers managed to come from behind and escape a tight match with a 2-1 win.

Branham gave Cullman an early lead, but after that, Hartselle maintained possession for a lot of the first half and was able to squeeze a goal into the right corner of the net late in the half to tie the game at one going into halftime.

Midway through the second half, a handball foul was called in the penalty box against the Lady Bearcats and Hartselle was able to take a 2-1 lead on the following penalty kick. Cullman was able put together some runs and got a lot of looks at the net in the last 20 minutes but couldn’t get any of its shots to find the back of the net. Hartselle held on to win the game 2-1 and end the Lady Bearcats’ season in the second round with a final record of 12-8-3.

Cullman Head Coach Jacob Brown felt like his team played well enough to win but couldn’t get the ball to bounce its way in the second half to take back the momentum.

“Honestly, I thought we had control in the second half. It was just one of those days where nothing goes your way. They have a lucky PK (penalty kick) and I’m not sure they had a real legitimate shot in the second half other than that where it wasn’t a routine save,” Brown said. “I’m proud of the girls, we had a great season, and this is a young group. They started eight seniors and we started seven middle schoolers. It is what it is, but I’m very happy with the season and I’m very proud of what is to come for the rest of them.”

This year’s seniors, Ninfa Moreno, Jazmin Gonte, Mariana Rodriguez and Jillian Richard, got a lot of praise from their coach after the game. Brown is also already looking ahead to how this loss can improve the team going forward.

“I hate it for the seniors, they’re a great group of kids. It’s always hard to replace seniors, especially these four who are such high-character kids and great leaders. I’m definitely going to miss them; it hurts me to think that they’re gone because I’ve had them for five years, so it definitely sucks but you know, that’s life,” Brown said. “Not everything goes your way, but really, I think you can learn more from a loss than you can a win. It builds character at the end of the day and that’s what sports are about.”

Other games

St. Bernard defeated Elkmont, 3-1, in the first round of the Class 1A State Soccer Playoffs and will play at Altamont on Saturday at 7 p.m.

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