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Amid the excitement of the beginning of the playoffs, the Lady Bulldogs were challenged with a first round opponent in Florence, the defending state champions in 4A. Despite staying with the Lady Eagles throughout the first half, New Albany’s season came to an end with a 3-0 loss on Wednesday night.
“We couldn’t settle down in the first half, and we ended up wearing ourselves out,” New Albany coach Caryl Vogel said. “I don’t know if it was nerves or excitement, but we couldn’t settle down and into our game. That carried over into the second half. There were moments where we settled into our game, but we just couldn’t calm our nerves.”
“Florence came out very experienced, and played like it was any other game. You could tell they’re the defending 4A champs just by the way they came out.”
Ali Sullivan put Florence ahead, 1-0, in the 35th minute, and eleven minutes into the second half, the Lady Eagles scored the first of two goals in the half, taking the 3-0 lead with 12 minutes remaining.
The Lady Bulldogs have a lot to look forward to in the near future, returning almost all of its starters from this division championship squad.
“The future here is very bright with the varsity players we have returning and the JV girls we have moving up,” Vogel said. “We’re replacing two seniors, Shannon Goode and Olivia Dunnam, and those will be shoes to fill. We have a great core of younger girls coming up, so we have a lot to look forward to.
Bulldogs move on to face Pontotoc
Coming down to an exciting finish in overtime, the Bulldogs advanced to the second round after defeating Germantown, 4-2, on Tuesday night.
Anthony Fernandez was responsible for all of New Albany’s goals in the match, tying the game twice and scoring two goals in the overtime period.
“No one expected us to come out and compete, and we walked into a war zone,” Vogel said. “They played the hardest I’ve seen them play this year, and they never gave up. Anthony Fernandez had a phenomenal game, and he did everything I asked of him.”
Next for the Bulldogs is a second round matchup with Pontotoc at home on Saturday. The Warriors have defeated the Bulldogs twice this season, but Vogel likes the way his team is playing and feels it will be an exciting match, with the winner advancing to Tuesday’s north half finals.
“If they continue to play like they did on Tuesday, it’s going to be a great match against Pontotoc,” he said. “They’ve beaten us twice, but I feel like they have a great shot this weekend.”