By Gary Lloyd
The game was played last May 11, but it’s still talked about around Willie Adams Stadium at Pinson Valley High School.
St. Paul’s 6, Pinson Valley 1
That was the score of a state semifinal game, a game in which the winner would play for a state championship.
“We got embarrassed,” said head coach Chris Mills, now in his second year as the boys’ soccer coach.
Mills, the Pinson Valley football team’s offensive coordinator, has coached football 10 years. He said having Steve Shaw as the soccer team’s assistant is a “godsend.”
Mills said after that game the Pinson Valley would be back to John Hunt Park in Huntsville, where the state tournament is held. The Indians are working toward that.
“We’re not there yet, but we’re getting better,” Mills said.
Pinson Valley is 8-3-3 this season and ranked No. 7 in Class 5A. Pinson Valley played a tough Spain Park team to a 0-0 draw earlier this season and bested No. 6 Homewood 1-0 last week.
Freshman Josh Almandarez, who wasn’t part of last year’s state semifinal team, scored the lone goal in last week’s game midway through the second half on a ball that bounced to him off the Homewood post. Almandarez said the goal, which he scored within 10 feet of the net, wasn’t like any of his other nine goals this season.
“This is a really good team, so this is better,” he said.
Mills said it was “really big” to beat a team of Homewood’s caliber, which last week had beaten defending state champion John Carroll.
“We’re starting to play with more confidence,” Mills said. “These kids are playing with a purpose this year.”
Mills said the team doesn’t have a “30-something” goal scorer like it did last season with Aaron Neely. The team has employed more of a defensive mindset, earning 1-0 wins like the one over Homewood. The team can win a state championship that way, Mills said. Almandarez said that’s the goal, noting that playing hard and with heart will carry the team.
“(Winning the state championship) is what we really want to do,” he said.
Contact Gary Lloyd at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.