Nelson’s game-winner lifts Eagles above Patriots

Deon Hill (No. 13) fights off a Patriot as he moves the ball down the field.

PHOTO: Brandon Bush

By Brandon Bush


It took only six games for the Putnam County boys soccer team to score a memorable victory.

The War Eagles survived a thriller of a game against the Oglethorpe County Patriots last Friday, defeating their guests from Lexington in a 2-1 effort. Just like their counterparts on the girls team, the Eagles are now at 1-0 in region play for the 2018 season.

The most exciting part of Putnam’s close call with the Patriots didn’t come until the waning moments of the match; tied 1-1 with only a mere 14 seconds left in the game, Brenton Nelson drilled the ball towards the net. His scoring attempt would prove successful as the Patriot goalkeeper could not reach the right-hand side of the net in time to block what would be the game-winning goal.

“When I looked up, I saw the keeper off of his line,” Nelson said when describing the shot, “so I tried my best to make something out of it, and it worked.”

Despite Oglethorpe County leaving Eatonton with a 0-3-1 record, Putnam boys assistant coach Mark Silva still described the Patriots as one of tougher opponents in their region.

“[Oglethorpe] was heavily loaded with juniors and seniors, while we’re mostly freshmen and sophomores,” Silva said. “I think we had eight or nine underclassmen on the field [Friday]. It’s a pretty big deal to play these younger kids and still win.”

In addition to having a team of mostly underclassmen, the War Eagles were short a man as team captain and center midfielder Marcos Almanza did not compete due to contracting the flu. Silva said Almanza is one of the team’s best players, and earning the victory without him made the feat even more amazing.

In addition to the game-winning kick, Nelson also scored the first Putnam County goal with 10:28 remaining in the first half. The shot was Nelson’s second attempt in the span of several minutes, but despite his first attempt failing he was able to put Putnam on the board on his second try.

Oglethorpe played aggressively all night, maintaining a constant presence on Putnam’s side of the field and only narrowly missing a handful of goals that could have drastically tipped the balance in the Patriots’ favor. Oglethorpe came close to a goal in the first half at 15:31, but its only goal didn’t come until a penalty kick in the second half.

After improving to 5-1 overall and 1-0 in region and with a thrilling victory under their belt, it should be full speed ahead for the War Eagles.

“I think [this win] does a great deal for their confidence,” Silva said. “Each team develops their own personality, and this is a quietly confident team. They aren’t overconfident, they just see the next opponent and they’re ready to play.”

When asked how he and his teammates could continue to be successful, Nelson said they have to “keep practicing, keep the team together and keep focused on the game.”

As with the Lady Eagles, the Putnam boys spent this week competing in the prestigious Viking Cup Tournament in Macon, which is hosted by First Presbyterian Day School. Putnam County won the tournament for the first time ever last season, making it the defending champs as it faces FPD on Thursday and First Presbyterian Christian Academy on Friday.

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