Those in attendance at Stanley-Jensen Stadium on Tuesday might call Sam Connors’ goal a matter of luck, while others might refer to it as skill.
Either way, it was a moment Prattville fans won’t soon forget.
Connors connected on a goal from about 60 yards that sailed over the outstretched hand of the goaltender with 52 seconds remaining in the opening half of Prattville’s 2-1 Class 6A second-round soccer victory over Auburn.
“That’s like the most amazing feeling I’ve ever had in my life,” Connors said. “It was great.”
Locked in a scoreless tie, the Lions were awarded a free kick on the right sideline. Connors, who switched from offense to defense this season, was left with the task of trying to jump-start his team’s struggling offense.
“We just told him to, ‘Put it on the keeper; put it on the keep,'” Prattville coach Rob Mitchell said. “He just ran back and just hit one. Man, that ball got nasty towards the end, and the keeper had absolutely no idea where it was. It was just moving everywhere.”
It simply wasn’t Auburn goalkeeper Chad Smith’s night.
Smith stopped a blistering shot late, but wasn’t able to gain control of the ball in front of the net before William Mitchell raced in for the easy tally that created a 2-0 advantage for Prattville (15-9-3).
“You ask your guys to leave the field with no regrets, and I think we can do that tonight,” said Tigers coach Bo Morrissey, who guided Auburn to the state championship last season. “We had about 15 good chances to score goals tonight, so by no way are we putting this on Chad.”
Prattville will travel to Oak Mountain (19-2-1) for Saturday’s quarterfinal match.
“This is a huge stride for this program,” Rob Mitchell said. “Our guys just really came through and stepped up big for us tonight. This gives us a lot of confidence.”
Auburn girls 3, Prattville 1
Auburn’s Abby Jones scored two goals as Prattville dropped a 3-1 decision.
Jones and Leah Cook each had second-half goals to put the pressure on the Lions. Jones registered her first goal in the opening half, beating Prattville goaltender Daniele Ewert on a penalty kick in the 29th minute for a 1-0 advantage at the break.
“When they got the second goal, we kind of had to change a little bit,” Prattville coach Ryan Strong said. “We had to come out of the back a little more and pressing further up the field. Once we did that, they kind of get in behind us more. But my girls played their hearts out.”
Prattville (12-6-3) hasn’t had much success in this series of late, going winless in four meetings against Auburn in 2013. Auburn (21-3-2) also eliminated the Lions in last spring’s 6A state semifinal match in Huntsville.
Hannah Long scored Prattville’s only goal.