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April 23, 2014

Bulloch Academy upsets Lady Panthers, 2-1

CHULA — The 2014 soccer season ended Wednesday afternoon for the Lady Panthers of Tiftarea Academy at the Panther Pit. A No. 2 seed going into the state playoffs, they were defeated 2-1 by the Bulloch Academy Lady Gators in the first round.

For 72 minutes, the Tiftarea Academy Panthers searched for a way to get on the scoreboard. They had come close on multiple occasions. They tried corner kicks and had one good one-on-one opportunity, but nothing was doing the trick.

Finally, with 8:06 remaining, Neeli Fortson found the back of the net. She had gotten past a group of Bulloch Academy defenders and prepared to square off with the goalkeeper. That was a battle she would win, as the keeper fell down and Fortson was able to score.

However, instead of giving the Lady Panthers the lead, it merely put them on the scoreboard. The Lady Gators had already scored two goals at that point. It did change the complexion of the offense, though.

Bulloch's defense had been lights out and most of the game was played on their offense end. Now with renewed vigor, Tiftarea became the aggressor. Bulloch had slipped into a formation to designed to prevent goals, but very rarely could clear. They would do the job well enough.

The Lady Panthers would have a final offensive flurry, but never could score again. Their last major attempt at goal ended with a kick behind the net with 30 seconds left.

Neither team could make a dent in the scoreboard in the first half. Tiftarea had the early advantage, with two shots on goal in the first three minutes and two corner kicks in the first 12. The ball would eventually settle on Bulloch's side of the line, where they would have a ball sail wide left.

Fortson set up another another attempt  with 15 minutes to go in the first, but the timing was not quite there and the Lady Gators stopped another.

The visitors from Statesboro finally drew blood with 36:40 showing on the clock when they hit one in the top right corner. Their second would come just four minutes later.

Bulloch was to play the winner of Holy Spirit Prep and Young Americans Christian.

This was the final game for three Tiftarea seniors; Fortson, Lauren Goforth and Ali Rippy all graduate.

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