A late goal helped the Newton Rams boys varsity soccer team spoil the Salem Seminoles Senior Night Tuesday on the road.
Newton’s Donovan Graydon connected with the game-winner with six seconds to go, breaking a deadlocked second half while propelling the Rams to a 4-3 non-region victory.
With the clock winding down, Graydon’s first shot deep in Seminole territory missed its mark, but Graydon was able to corral the rebound and his second shot attempt hit its mark, securing the rivalry win for Newton.
“The goal was great,” Newton coach Lavon White said. “I was really excited for our guys because we rested a lot of our starters because we have a region game Wednesday against Rockdale. So, a lot of our young guys started and they stayed strong.
“They stayed real tough after giving up the lead at the end of the first half,” he said. “I was happy to see them keep fighting until the end.”
Graydon’s scoring run ended after a flurry of shots from the Newton offense. Newton worked the ball deep into Salem territory and Graydon fired off a shot, but the Seminoles’ defense kept it from crossing the goal line. Another Ram took the initial rebound, but the shot was blocked again before Graydon followed the miss and finished off his second-shot opportunity.
After leading 3-0 in the first half, Newton allowed the Seminoles to tie the game at halftime, but kept Salem’s high-speed offense in check over the final 40 minutes.
Newton keeper Nicolas Ramirez tallied nine second-half saves, including three in the opening 10 minutes of the second half, preserving a scoreless period for the Seminoles.
“I can’t say enough about (Ramirez’s) performance in goal,” White said. “I think he made every type of save possible – punch outs, dives, slides, leaps – it didn’t matter he was there. We fed off of that and his effort; we were still in the game because of him. Salem put a lot of great shots on the goal tonight and we were fortunate to have him in there. He made a difference.”
Newton led by three goals after the opening 21 minutes, jumping out to a 3-0 lead thanks to scores from D’Carey Prince, Ousmane Dogo and Nazeem Dietrich.
Prince netted the Rams’ opening score with 11 minutes gone in the first period. Newton’s run started after Michael Prince saved the ball from going out of bounds near midfield, finding Fletcher Stamps open. Stamps hit Prince on a run and Prince was able to go one-on-one with the keeper, connecting on the shot for a 1-0 lead.
Dogo scored three minutes later after Michael Prince used a flick over his shoulder with his back turned to the net to find Dogo. Dogo took the feed and buried a shot into the bottom left corner of the goal, doubling the Rams’ advantage.
Newton’s scoring run ended at the 19:38 mark after Dietrich scored on a second chance opportunity. With the Seminoles’ defense pushed back Dogo fired off a shot from 25 yards out. The shot was stopped, but the ricochet landed at the feet of Dietrich. Dietrich used one touched and gathered the ball before firing off a shot, extending Newton’s lead to three goals with the follow-up score.
Facing a 3-0 deficit, Salem rallied over the final 20 minutes, erasing Newton’s early lead before the halftime break.
Two minutes after the Rams netted their final score of the half, Salem’s offense answered with its first goal. Nixon Condolo netted the Seminoles first score, striking on a long distance shot that just dipped over Ramirez’s head. Condolo received a pass from Daniel Rodrigues after winning a ball at midfield. After settling the ball, Condolo fired off a 30-yard attempt from the left sideline, cutting Newton’s lead to 3-1 after the score.
Salem struck again with 10:50 left in the period, this time scoring on a Newton defensive miscue.
Salem’s Abasi Jamison found the back of the net after Newton failed to clear a ball out of its territory. Jamison found the ball and took a shot, but the shot attempt was blocked. Jamison didn’t quit on the play and settled the rebound, firing off a second shot attempt that hit its mark.
Senior Rico Pope evened the score with just over a minute left in the half, tying the game at 3-3 on a short end line goal inside the penalty box.
“We battled hard and it was good to see the guys fight to tie it before halftime,” Salem coach Andre Johnson said. “One goal made the difference in the second half, but I’m proud of our seniors and what they’ve done during their four-year run. This was my first season with them and I’m happy I had the opportunity to work with these guys.”
Between the girls and boys contests the Seminoles honored seniors Caree’ Atkins, Tyler McEwan, Kevin Miranda, Phil Pierrepoint, Rico Pope, Jermaine Sumter, Will Thomas, Grant Vojnich, Josh West, Chelsea Booker, Paige Forte’, Alexas Melhado, Bria Mosley, Sydney Youngblood, Kristina Campana and Meredith Gerard.