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Bulldogs clinch division with win over Vikings

Jan. 30—NEW ALBANY — New Albany utilized two early goals and a late one to defeat North Pontotoc 3-1 and clinch first place in 2-4A soccer. North Pontotoc wound up in second place with two losses to the Bulldogs.

New Albany survived an early scare as the Vikings threatened in the first couple of minutes, but the defense turned away the Vikings and on the counter attack the Bulldogs went down and scored.

Edwin Vargas put a ball into the net in the fourth minute to stake New Albany to the lead they never relinquished.

"Edwin got in and put a head on it and put it in the goal and man, I'm thankful," New Albany coach Austin Baker said. "Edwin was beaming with confidence all night up and down the wing."

The Bulldogs scored their second goal in the 19th minute as Grayson Aleander finished a shot off an assist from Gael (Cheese) Perez for the 2-0 lead.

The Bulldogs had little time to celebrate as David Tovar brought the Vikings back to within a goal as he scored immediately after the ball was put back in play following Alexander's goal.

"Number 7 got their goal for them just basically by himself and scored a nice goal," Baker said. "He's relentless too with his effort, but our boys stepped up to the task and shut him down the rest of the night.

The teams went to half with New Albany leading 2-1.

New Albany was the benefactor of a huge play by keeper Alan Ortega during the 57th minute. The Vikings were awarded a penalty kick after a handball inside the 18 by New Albany.

North Pontotoc's Tovar took the PK and sent a ball near the left post, but Ortega guessed correctly and smothered the ball to prevent the score.

"He guessed right and that's what it comes down to is a guessing game with the keeper, but man, he made a great save," Baker said.

Josue Sabillon came off the bench and drove home the final Bulldog goal in the 76th minute to hand New Albany the win.

Baker also credited the play of Samir Peraza on offense plus the defensive efforts of Jorge Perez and Collin Nolen as keys to the win.

Peraza had two assists and Cheese Perez had one.

(G) New Albany 1, North Pontotoc 0

Allie Keller scored the game's lone goal in the 65th minute off the assist by Lela Trout to hand New Albany the 1-0 win in girls action.

New Albany had a chance to take a lead in the 20th minute as Keller had a shot that was rolling into the goal after the North Pontotoc keeper had come out to challenge the play. However, the ball was tapped in just inches away from the line by a Lady Bulldog teammate that was offside and the goal was not allowed.

dennis.clayton@djournal.com