Even so, the Canes were able to hold the Spartans to a scoreless tie for 56 minutes and had some opportunities to take the lead.
However, the floodgates opened in the 57th minute as West Hall scored four goals in a span of 13:24 to defeat Cartersville 4-0 Thursday night in Oakwood and eliminate the Canes in the first round of the state playoffs.
“It was a bad night to have a bad game,” Cartersville head coach D.J. Paradis said. “I feel like we had a good season. We didn’t take advantage of some of opportunities we had. I always told them, ‘You need to put your foot down and you don’t let go.’ Maybe if we put our foot down a little more this season, maybe this is a different night. Maybe we’re at home, but it is what it is.”
Cartersville was able to prevent West Hall from scoring in the first half, but even then, the Spartans were controlling the middle of the field.
West Hall was afforded six corners and took 11 shots in the first half, but could not get on the scoreboard.
“They controlled the ball. They knew how to maneuver us to one side and then back again,” Paradis said. “They just tried to swing us out of position as much as possible. Unfortunately, they finally swung us enough in the second half where they could get a goal.”
Cartersville was able to put some pressure on West Hall and had a few free kicks in the Spartans’ side of the field. On defense, Cartersville was able to keep the ball out of the back of the net, despite the heavy shot-on-goal advantage for West Hall.
Senior goalkeeper Reid Selton’s performance was one of the primary reasons West Hall failed to score in the first half.
“Reid had a great game. He protected us for as long as he could,” Paradis said. “Unfortunately, you keep getting opportunities, eventually you’re going to put one in and that’s what it is. They kept taking their opportunities and eventually one broke.”
Known as an aggressive attack-minded squad, the Spartans had been knocking on the door for most of the second half. In the 48th minute, Selton made a diving save to his left on a well-struck shot from the top of the box.
Roughly 30 seconds later, West Hall maneuvered around the left side of the Cartersville defense and placed a cross to an unmarked defender 10 yards out. The bicycle attempt by a Spartan forward missed wide left by just a few feet.
West Hall retained possession soon after and, once again, nearly missed a goal, this time a shot from the top of the box hit the crossbar and bounced back into play.
The near-misses capped a string of five minutes when West Hall took five shots, all on goal or close to it.
Finally, West Hall broke through for its first goal in the 57th minute with a bicycle kick goal by Sammy Coto.
“We lost our mark in the box. We had it for a second and then he just turned on us,” Paradis said of the first goal. “It opened up and he was just able to put it in the back of the net.”
Just 2:47 later, West Hall would score on a Jordan Moreno penalty kick.
West Hall would get its third goal 36 seconds after its second when the Spartans moved down the left side where the ball was crossed to the head of Ramsis Martinez for the goal.
West Hall would get its final score with just over 10 minutes remaining in the match when another cross from the left side into the middle resulted in a Coto header.
“We were just holding our position better in the first half,” Paradis said of the difference between Cartersville’s defense in the first and second half. “We did the same thing in the second half, it just finally broke, and when one goal broke, we just broke. That’s unfortunate because we just couldn’t play to our game plan, get wide and get fast. We jut couldn’t turn the tide.”
The Canes finish the season with a record of 13-7.
“They’ve joined a fraternity. I just told them they have to remember each other and stay together,” Paradis said he told his team after the game. “We have to take [the program] and move it to the freshmen and juniors. We need to regroup, move on to next season and do the things we need to do to be successful.”