Lady Eagles win big to open region

Maribel Nieto fights with a Lady Patriot for control of the ball.

PHOTO: Brandon Bush

By Brandon Bush


The Lady War Eagles got off to a streaky start this season, losing big to teams such as Harris County and Upson-Lee while blowing out teams such as rival Greene County.

However, Putnam entered last Friday’s matchup ready to play, and the Lady Eagles brought their season back to .500 by defeating Oglethorpe County to notch the first region victory of the season. The Lady Patriots had no answer for Putnam as it cruised to an easy 6-0 victory.

“I think we did great,” Putnam girls soccer head coach Brandi Barling said. “We executed our game plan well. This was the first night we’ve had all our starters on the field. I think we’re working well so far.”

Barling said staying healthy will be a priority going forward this season, given that the only other game in which all the starters participated was at the beginning of the season.

“We’ve been playing some 4A and 5A opponents early,” Barling said of their season so far, “so now we can hopefully keep the ball rolling with our region opponents.”

A senior for the Lady Eagles, Sonia Hernandez was integral to Putnam’s runaway victory; although her first attempt at a penalty kick was a wide-left shot that beamed the left side of the goal, she later kicked another penalty kick to earn the Lady Eagles their first goal of the game with 11:44 remaining in the first half. Hernandez sank another goal on a corner shot in the second half to secure victory.

Goalkeeper Brianna Neese kept a clean sheet against the Lady Patriots and played a huge role in Putnam’s first region victory. Among the many failed shots Oglethorpe took at Putnam’s goal, Neese managed to brace herself and catch a line-drive strike, keeping the Lady Patriots stuck with a goose egg to set up Hernandez’s first goal to draw the game’s first blood.

Shortly after Hernandez’s first strike, sophomore Isabella Chamberlain flew across the field to drill one into the Oglethorpe goal with 11:00 minutes remaining in the first half. After a majority of the game was spent at a 0-0 stalemate, Putnam quickly jumped ahead to a 2-0 lead as the remaining minutes drifted away in the first half.

The Lady Eagles rode the momentum of the first half into the second 40-minute period, with Maribel Nieto using her speed to earn Putnam’s third goal of the night at 13:23. Madelyn Peacock scored the final goal for the Lady Eagles with 6:45 remaining in the game.

Putnam’s victory over Oglethorpe was so absolute that a Lady Patriot accidently kicked an own-goal to increase the deficit. Oglethorpe moved to make a desperation goal with 37 seconds left in the game to prevent a shutout, but the attempt failed and the Lady Patriots left Putnam County with nothing to show for it.

With their first region victory secured over one of Region 8-AA’s stronger opponents, the Lady War Eagles are now involved in their next tournament appearance. Putnam is taking part in the Viking Cup tournament, hosted by First Presbyterian Day School in Macon and featuring games against Strong Rock Christian (Feb. 27), FPD (Feb. 28) and First Presbyterian Christian Academy (March 2).

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