Cavaliers win on senior night

Published 11:45 am Friday, April 19, 2019


Daily News

They finished in style.

The Callaway Cavaliers closed the regular season with an impressive 2-0 home win over Salem on Thursday night.

The seven seniors were recognized before the match, and the Cavaliers then went out and took care of business to head into the state playoffs on a winning note.

Callaway, which finished fourth in Region 5-AA, will take on Region 8-AA champion Social Circle in a first-round matchup next week.

That game will be played at Social Circle on April 26 at 7 p.m.

“It’s always good to go into the playoffs with a winning spirit,” said Tyler Lewis, one of Callaway’s seniors. “If you lost, it’s not a good feeling going in. So it definitely builds confidence, especially for the younger guys.”

After falling to Bremen on Tuesday and South Paulding on Wednesday, Callaway made sure it didn’t enter the playoffs on a three-game losing streak.

Neal Ellison scored a first-half goal on an assist from Elbin Jacob to give the Cavaliers a 1-0 lead.

With 16:32 to play in the game, Joe Neese beat the Salem defense down the field, and he slammed the ball past the goal keeper to give the Cavaliers a 2-0 lead.

Josh Cooprider, one of Callaway’s seniors, made a terrific one-handed save in the final minutes to preserve the shutout.

Callaway beat Jordan 4-0 last week to secure a playoff spot, and head coach Mike Petite saw a similar effort in Thursday’s game.

“That was a lot of the same way we played against Jordan,” Petite said. “We had a lot to play for the other night, because that was essentially a playoff game. Win that, and we’re in. And then tonight it’s senior night. Hopefully we can continue doing those kind of things, because now we’re in the playoffs. The type of team Salem was, I think is similar to what we’ll see in the first round.”

Callaway tied for the region championship and advanced to the second round of the state playoffs a year ago.

Many of the players responsible for that success graduated, though, so it was a new-look team that hit the field for the opener in February.

While there have been some stumbles along the way, the Cavaliers have done enough to get back into the playoffs.

“Half of our team are freshmen this year,” Cooprider said. “We knew we had to get them going. It took long enough, but look at us now. I think we are rolling really nice right now.”

While a lot changed between seasons, Cooprider has been a constant.

He was the keeper for last season’s veteran team, and he’s been in goal for a team with a lot of inexperience.

In what was likely his final home game, Cooprider had a handful of saves to help the Cavaliers get the shutout.

“You can’t end your home career any better than having a clean sheet in goal,” Petite said. “So I’m happy for him.”

In addition to Lewis and Cooprider, the other seniors are Hye Douglas, Ian Dougherty, Michael Everett, Justin McMillon and Hunter Lee.

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