PREP SOCCER PLAYOFFS: Lady Bearcats fall to Albertville at home in Penalty Kicks

Cullman's Abby Branham fights through an Albertville defender during the Lady Bearcats' loss to the Aggies on Friday. (Nick Griffin for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – After wrapping up the regular season with an area title, the Cullman Lady Bearcats hosted Albertville for the opening round of the AHSAA state playoffs but came up just short in penalty kicks (PKs) after a pair of sudden death periods to bring their season to a close.

The Lady Bearcats trailed the Lady Aggies 1-0 at the half and that score held for most of the second half but Abby Branham was able to break free in the middle of the field and scored with just over 15 minutes to play to tie the game at 1. Cullman got a few more opportunities to score in the final minutes but couldn’t find the back of the net, sending the game to sudden death.

Both teams duked it out for a pair of five minute sudden death periods but they still couldn’t create any separation and penalty kicks were needed to settle things. After scoring on their first two attempts, the Lady Bearcats were stopped on the third attempt and Albertville was able to capitalize and edge out Cullman 5-3 in PKs.

Head coach Jacob Brown felt good about the way his team played most of the game, but they just couldn’t hang on when penalty kicks began.

“It hurts. We controlled the whole game. They had a great keeper and she kept them in the game even though we controlled the whole game. As far as PKs go, one of the things I do to take pressure off of them is I pick where our keeper goes, and I guessed wrong five times,” Brown said. “I’d rather the loss be on me than them, I’ll take it.”

Brown thinks very highly of this year’s Cullman team and despite getting knocked off as the favorites this season, he is still very excited about the future for the Lady Bearcats.

“I would say that this is the best team we’ve had, and at the end of the day, we got upset,” Brown said. “We were the favorite for the first three rounds, and you know sometimes being the favorite isn’t the best thing, there’s more pressure. From a season standpoint, this is the best team we’ve ever had. Until now we had lost to one 6A team all season and two 7A teams. We lose three seniors and after that we’ve got two juniors, one sophomore and then everybody else is eighth and ninth graders so the future is still very bright and hopefully we can capitalize on that and take care of business the next few years.”

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