Callaway falls in the opening round of the AA state playoffs

Published 10:31 pm Thursday, April 13, 2023

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The Callaway girls soccer team’s season came to a heartbreaking conclusion on Thursday as the team suffered a 3-2 loss to Walker in the first round of the AA state playoffs. It was the second year in a row the Cavaliers fell on their home field by one goal in the opening round. 

“These girls battled through a lot today, and that’s a team that Callaway can be proud of, not just family and friends but the entire school,” Cavalier coach Mike Petite said. “We made ourselves proud today. They did everything they could.”

It was a back-and-forth game, especially in the first half as the two teams ran up and down the pitch. Goals came in a flash, but the Cavaliers got the better of the exchange during the early salvos and escaped the first 30 minutes with a 2-1 lead courtesy of goals from Aylin Ulloa and Autumn Brown. 

The final minutes of the first half were all Walker with the away team scoring a goal with 10 minutes to play to level the match at two goals apiece. The Cavaliers were in real danger of trailing at the break when they conceded a penalty with three minutes to go but Raine Hunt delivered a magnificent save after the penalty cannoned off the post and found a Walker player wide open in the box. With the ball traveling right into the lower corner, Hunt got down quickly to her left and threw out a big hand to palm the ball safely out of bounds.

The game was tied at the half but Walker was able to grab the winning goal mere minutes into the second half. Callaway huffed and puffed and created a number of quality chances but could not deliver that killer blow and level the game. 

Kate McAteer who led the team with 39 goals and provided 11 assists in the regular season was absent due to personal reasons, which left the Cavaliers shorthanded in the attack. 

Callaway ends the season 14-5. The Cavaliers have won a whopping 30 games in two seasons under head coach Mike Petite — by far the most wins in a two-year stretch in Cavalier history. 

The Cavaliers will now have to move on without six key seniors — Emily Lindsey, Mya Lawton, CC Bledsoe, Katherine Barnette, Hunt and McAteer. It will not be easy as Lindsey, Lawton and Bledsoe were three of the four starters in defense. Lawton has college soccer potential and was at the heart of the defense. Hunt was the team’s starting goalkeeper the last two years while McAteer was the team’s leading goal scorer. Barnette was a starter in midfield and gave the team a balance of attack and defense. 

“I told these seniors that they set the table for these younger girls,” Petite said. “We have a lot of four year seniors like Emily, CC and Raine. What they and the other girls did to elevate us to the status that we are now is amazing.”