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Rams, Lions split on the pitch
Newton's Precious Buddington splits a pair of MLK defenders in the Lady Rams' 2-0 win over the Lady Lions Friday night. - photo by Matt Smith

A muddy, sloppy night for the Newton soccer program ended in a Friday night split at home in non-region action, as the Lady Rams picked up a win over visiting MLK High School before the boys fell in the nightcap.

The Lady Rams outlasted MLK 2-0 in the opening game, shutting out the Lady Lions with a staunch defensive effort.

An unlucky deflection was all that separated the boys team from the Lions in the late game, as the Rams fell 2-1 to MLK without a full roster.

Against the Lady Lions, Newton picked up a goal midway through the first half before icing the game with a penalty kick goal in the second.

"They (MLK) did a good job of identifying our scorers from the first time we played and they put a lot of pressure on us up front with a few double teams," Newton coach David Alexander said. "It took us out of our game a little bit, but we were able to figure it out and use it to our advantage.

"I think we played a smart game and I'm proud of how our girls handled themselves in a physical contest," he said. "I think it’s going to give us a lot of confidence."

After a scoreless opening 20 minutes, Newton found itself with a 1-0 lead at the 18:59 mark, netting its first goal off the foot of Lacey Brackett. Brackett's score was the lone goal for either team in an opening period marked by the Lady Lions' physical presence on the field.

MLK pushed and clawed its way through the Lady Rams' defense with just over seven minutes to go before halftime, taking multiple shots at the goal, but the Lady Rams' Amanda Fonseca cleared the ball out of Newton's backfield, preserving the one-goal lead heading into halftime.

In the second half, the Lady Lions looked poised to tie the game twice in the first 10 minutes of the period, but a free kick and a shot off an inbound pass just missed their mark.

Newton made MLK pay for its offensive miscues at the 25-minute mark in the half, scoring its second goal of the game.

The Lady Lions' Miyeasha Scott was called for a foul against Newton's Alondra Ayala and the Lady Rams were awarded a free kick. Brackett took the free kick, curving it through the Lady Lions' defense, eventually forcing a corner kick.

Brackett found Fonseca on the corner and Fonseca knocked the ball down in front of MLK's goal, leading to an easy tap in for the Lady Rams' Precious Buddington for the score.

Buddington's goal pushed Newton's lead to 2-0 and the Lady Rams' keeper Cheyenne Walsingham kept MLK off the scoreboard for the shutout victory.

Unlucky bounce

In the late game, an unlucky deflection decided a 2-1 decision in favor of MLK against a depleted Rams' roster.

Newton played without a handful of its starters with a county-rivalry match-up slated against Eastside late Saturday afternoon, but the Rams kept the pressure on a visiting Lions' squad.

Newton and MLK went into the break tied 1-1, but a deflection off a free kick decided the Rams' fate in the second half, as the Lions used a bit of luck to seal the road win.

"The ball found the net on a bad bounce, but I was proud of our guys tonight," Newton coach Lavon White said. "They didn't have any quit in them. I saw a lot of energy from our young guys and we were able to give them a lot of playing time tonight. It was a big boost to the growth of our program.

"We saw a lot of heart out there and that's all you can ask for," he said.

The Lions struck first in a back-and-forth contest, finding the net 17 minutes into the first half. MLK played the ball deep into Newton territory and the Rams headed the ball out, but the defensive clear didn't make it past the Lions' first offensive line, and MLK's Eric Stallcup needed just one touch in front of the goal, firing a shot into the back of the net.

Trailing 1-0, Newton wasted little time tying the contest, scoring just three minutes after the Lions' goal. Newton's Donovan Graydon drew a foul after going up the sideline with a one-on-one attempt with the Lions' keeper. The Lions' defensive unit tripped Graydon inside of the penalty box, setting up a penalty kick for the Rams' Carlvon Betts.

Betts sent a strike just to the left of MLK's Demonte Kemp, knotting the score at 1-1 before halftime.

In the second half, Newton came out with a strong offensive attack, but missed its first three shots on goal.

The Lions responded after Newton failed to convert its early opportunities, netting the game winner with 25:57 left in the contest on the free kick deflection. MLK's Elvin Clive clipped the Rams' defensive wall in front of the goal, causing the ball to slide past Newton's defense into the bottom right corner of the net.

Newton had an opportunity to tie with 14:57 remaining, but the Rams' Colin Dameron was unable to get off a shot on a breakaway opportunity that would have evened the score.

Newton returns to action Tuesday at home against Rockdale County.