Highlanders clip Duncan
It was an eventful evening for the MacArthur soccer teams.
The girls opened the doubleheader with a thrilling 1-0 win over Duncan thanks to a perfectly placed free kick, and the boys came back from two goals down in the second half before suffering a 3-2 setback in a short extra time period.
Ponder lifts Mac girls to third district win
With the physicality between Mac and Duncan increasing by the minute, it was only a matter of time before the game reached a turning point.
Abby Ponder delivered just that for the Lady Highlanders at the most opportune juncture in the second half.
The freshman scored the game-winner on a free kick with 10:59 remaining, delivering a flawless strike over the goalkeeper's outstretched arms to the top left corner of the goal to give Mac a 1-0 district victory at Cameron Stadium on Tuesday night.
Ponder said she didn't know what to expect when she sent the ball hurtling toward the goal.
"It was a great moment for the whole team," Ponder said. "I didn't think it was going to go in because the keeper had a great night. I was just totally amazed when it went it."
The score put a nice gloss on a contest full of close calls for the Lady Highlanders.
Mac (7-5 overall, 3-1 District 5A-1) had at least seven shots on target prior to the winning strike, including a shot inside the box from Natalie Smith that bounced off the left post at the 13:40 mark in the second half.
Rayne Hudson, who was on the receiving end of the foul that led to Ponder's free kick, had four near makes herself, three of which came in the first half.
The Demons demonstrated the potential to find decent looks as well, but some key saves from goalkeeper Zaria Jessie kept Duncan from scoring the upset.
Mac coach Marcus Williams said his team's mentality kept it from losing confidence after the missed shots.
"It was a little frustrating, but champions' mindset is you have to keep shooting and stay on the course," Williams said. "We needed that win after taking a horrible (10-0 loss to Piedmont) last Friday."
The Lady Highlanders return to action at 5:30 p.m. on Friday against Heritage Hall (9-2).
"(Heritage Hall) has been our achilles heel for the past two years," Williams said. "They knocked us out of the first round of the playoffs, so it'll be a good match."
Duncan spoils Mac boys' rally in extra time
Mac wouldn't go away.
Desperately needing a goal in the final minutes of regulation, midfielder Alistar Swierkosz hit a game-tying strike, knotting the district contest at 2 with 3:14 remaining. The junior's goal helped the Highlanders overcome a two-goal deficit, effectively sending the district contest with Duncan into sudden death extra time.
Unfortunately for Mac, the Demons prevailed in the end.