The Gardendale girls soccer team scored three unanswered goals on Tuesday night in Driver Stadium to secure a 3-1 comeback win over rival Mortimer Jordan. The win comes two days before postseason play arrives, as Gardendale is scheduled to host Pinson Valley in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs Thursday night.
Junior MacKynzie Watson found some open road down the right side on Tuesday in the second minute and took advantage for a 1-0 Blue Devil lead. That would be Mortimer Jordan’s only offensive make of the evening, although Watson would come close.
The junior tore away a steal near midfield and quickly pushed it back into Gardendale territory for a clean look at the net, but Rocket keeper Kathryn Grace Jones stretched out for a crucial save that screwed down a 2-1 advantage in the 21st minute of the second half.
Minutes later Gardendale junior LuLu Lancaster beat the defense down the right sideline and slapped a 3-1 lead into the upper right corner of the net. That score went final 16 minutes later.
Mortimer Jordan’s first-half lead held for a little over a minute. Lancaster found teammate Saniya Johnson on the outskirts of the penalty box where she swung the equalizer in at the 35:46 mark of the first half. Senior Peyton Miller gave the Rockets their first lead at 2-1 a few minutes later when she slipped a lengthy shot off the keeper’s outstretched fingers.
The Blue Devils travel to Southside-Gadsden on Thursday in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.
The Mortimer Jordan boys did not qualify for postseason play, but that certainly didn’t sprain their spirits on Tuesday night in Driver Stadium as they celebrated a 1-0 victory over their crosstown rival.
“We missed playoffs by double overtime and two 1-0 games and it just feels good to finish on top tonight,” said Mortimer Jordan coach Donnie Gooch. “We’ve had plenty of 1-0 games not go our way. Tonight in went our way and it’s just sweet.”
Gooch praised his senior class, which includes Waylon Armstrong—the guilty party of the night’s one and only goal. Armstrong caught Gardendale’s goalie pressing out a little too far midway through the first half, and lofted an arcing shot over the defense and into the net for a 1-0 lead that would need no insurance.
“Our plan was not to be super aggressive. We left Waylon high and just played a good ball to him,” said Gooch. “We’ve given about half a dozen guys that opportunity up top all season and we’ve come short a few times. Tonight we made the play.”
After the play was made, Mortimer Jordan was content to play defense and despite numerous advances from the Gardendale offense, the slim lead held.
The Rockets welcome Pinson Valley on Thursday in the opening round of the Class 6A state playoffs.