It had been nearly five years since the Wetumpka girls soccer team defeated Stanhope Elmore. The Mustangs were primed to extend that streak after an early goal gave them a one-goal lead at home but Wetumpka fought back with two goals in the final 50 minutes to knock off its rivals 2-1.
“That’s the best team soccer that I have seen the girls program play since I got here,” Wetumpka coach Jessica Holbert said. “They were not selfish, they were communicating, they were making passes and that was great to see.”
Wetumpka (3-3-2) was looking to rebound from its 10-0 defeat to Enterprise last week. The Indians fell behind early after Amairanys Urbano found the back of the net from 20 yards out to put Stanhope in front in the 12th minute.
Holbert said she was concerned with how her team would respond but it did not take long for the Wetumpka players to show some fight. The Indians turned the momentum in the final 15 minutes of the first half and got their reward with an equalizer before the break.
Moments after putting two free kicks just over the bar, Arrie Slauson connected with a shot from 24 yards out and watched it sail into the top left corner to tie the game. Wetumpka got another chance late in the half but a Stanhope defender cleared the ball out of the six-yard box just in time to keep the score level.
“We knew at halftime that they were tired and they were getting caught standing still,” Holbert said. “Our girls started doing it too but it wasn’t a stamina thing for us. We told them, if they’re standing and not moving well, drive it to them. Leave them behind.”
Chances were rare to start the second half as possession stayed in midfield for the first 10 minutes after the break. Hailey Holbert cleared a Stanhope corner in the 50th minute but the Mustangs barely got a glimpse at goal for the final half hour.
Three minutes later, Wetumpka had its first real chance to take the lead but a kick save on a shot from Morgan Sims was followed by a block on Slauson’s rebound attempt to keep the game at 1-1.
The two connected again a few moments later for the winning goal. Hailey Holbert had a throw-in deep in her own half but found Slauson on the right wing.
Slauson quickly turned and fired a long pass up the field, allowing Sims to run on to the ball and finish after a scrum in front of the goal. It was the first goal of the season for Sims, a seventh grader just called up from the JV roster, and it proved to be the difference in the end.
“We were playing Elmore County and I put her at striker just to see what she could do,” Holbert said. “She looked good up there. We knew their defense is not real fast so I thought she could just give them something to chase after and it worked.”
Wetumpka dominated possession in the final 20 minutes, keeping the ball in Stanhope’s half for most of the second half. The Mustangs had one final chance for an equalizer but Jameria Hall saw her shot from six yards out go wide with seven minutes remaining.
Stanhope dropped its third consecutive match and is now 2-1-5 on the season. Wetumpka jumps out in front of the Class 6A Section 6 standings with a match against Calera coming up next week.
“If they play the way they played today, win or lose, I’ll be happy,” Holbert said. “But of course, we still want to win.”