Blue Devils divide soccer games with Lee County

Chris Banda (11) gets separation from a Lee defender as he drives toward goal.

TIFTON — Tift County soccer kicked off its season Thursday with scrimmage games against Lee County.

The Blue Devils won 5-3, but the Lady Devils saw a 2-0 lead escape before falling, 4-3.

Caroline Vickers assisted Annslee Bassett for the game’s first goal in the opening part of the first half. The score increased to 2-0 when GiGi Elizalde tipped in a shot with 2:14 left. The Lady Trojans got on the scoreboard with 44 seconds remaining to trail 2-1 at intermission.

Despite a bevy of Morgen Ray, Lee tied the game at 2-2 with 27:48 remaining in the second half before taking a 3-2 lead at 24:08.

Ray had a big diving save five minutes later, but Tift could not gain any momentum. Vickers had a shot go wide left with 15 minutes showing on the clock before Lee added an insurance goal at 10:05.

The Lady Devils got a second goal from Elizalde with 3:30 left, as she took advantage of a one-on-one opportunity with the keeper and buried the ball in the left side of the net. That ended up being the end of the scoring, though Tift did have the ball on their half of the field as time expired.

DEVILS 5, TROJANS 3

Alex Cardoso started the Blue Devils off strong, giving them a 1-0 lead in the first two minutes of the game on an assist from RaJae Mickins.

Tift presented a high-energy offense and midfield against Lee, aggressively pursuing loose balls and challenging the Trojans to try to get possession on their side of the field.

Beto Aguirre, Cardoso and Alex Nunez all had shots in the opening minutes before Chris Banda took over as the main offensive force of the half. A header of his went high and Lee had to pounce on a more traditional kick.

Banda broke through with around 16 minutes to go in the first after the Trojans could not clear the ball from their end. Goal No. 3 came courtesy of Luis Palamores, who took advantage of a high bouncing pass over a Lee defender to kick one into the net.

Meanwhile, Paco Ventura held down his post in goal, which included a dazzling tip save. He also showed his reflexes in stopping a penalty kick, though the Trojans scored their first goal on the rebound. They scored a second goal just before the half ended.

Banda and Elian Calderon added second half goals.

Tift will host Valdosta Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

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