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Patriots defeat Seminoles, clinch Conyers Cup
Salem junior midfielder Mason Mancuso scores on a free kick with 25 second left in the first half as the ball went under the airborne Heritage defensive wall and past goalie Conner Domeleski. - photo by Phil Manson

Heritage senior captain Austin Kulp scored two first half goals and the Patriots clinched the Conyers Cup as they beat the Salem Seminoles 4-1 on Alumni Night Friday at Charles Evans Stadium Friday.

Heritage improved to 10-3 on the season, 4-2 in Region 8-AAAAA. Salem dropped to 3-7, 2-5 in region play.

“We got a massive region win, and that’s what we have to take care of first,” Heritage coach Brandon Stewart said. “I think, man for man, we’re the better team. But, you have to go out and show it. It’s a county game. It’s a wet pitch. And, you know what, it’s one of those things where they’ve got to be focused for 80 minutes. I’m really proud of their effort. They played hard for 80 minutes.”

Kulp put the Patriots up 1-0 with 26:25 left in the first half as Salem suffered a defensive breakdown. No Seminole defender picked up Kulp in the offensive zone, and Kulp was completely alone as he put the ball past Salem keeper Jermaine Sumter.

Kulp struck again at the 7:39 mark as Sumter drifted too far forward of his net. Kulp got the ball and lofted a 30-yard shot over Sumter’s head that bounced gently into the net, giving the Patriots a 2-0 lead.

Heritage forward Edel Ramos took advantage of another Salem error with 1:02 left in the half. Sumter made a save on a Patriot’ shot, but failed to clear the ball out of the goalie box. Ramos corralled the ball and drilled his goal home from the top of the goalie box, putting the Patriots up 3-0.

Salem scored with 25 seconds left in the half as junior midfielder Mason Mancuso was fouled just outside of the Patriot goal box. Mancuso fooled the Patriots with a low, rolling shot that went under the defensive wall and eluded Heritage sophomore goalie Connor Domeleski, cutting the Patriot’s lead to 3-1 at the half.

Salem came out and played with more purpose in the second half.

“Overall, it was a good fight,” Salem coach Andre Johnson said. “We had our chances, especially in the second half. Unfortunately, we missed a penalty kick (senior Grant Vojnich hit the crossbar after being fouled in the goalie box), and giving away that early goal on the corner. After that, it was pretty much even.”

Heritage’s Eder Mendez scored the final goal of the match on that corner kick by Luis Avila. Mendez took Avila’s corner kick on the fly and put ball in the back of the net past a sprawling

Heritage clinched the Conyers Cup by virtue of its win over Salem and its Feb. 18 defeat of Rockdale County 3-1.

Heritage hosts Elbert County Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., while Salem hosts Rockdale Monday at 7:30 p.m.