Sometimes a soccer match can just come down to one player making the best plays.
Hallie Buckingham proved to be the difference in the Augusta girls soccer team’s 2-1 home victory against Winfield Thursday night. Buckingham scored early in the match, then late in the match to lift the Orioles to victory.
Not only that, but the Orioles made progress as a team after Winfield appeared to deflate them. Augusta led 1-0 most of the match, but the Vikings made a nice play to break down the Orioles’ defense for a tough shot on goal that got through to tie the match 1-1. But Augusta responded.
“That’s something that’s been our problem this whole year,” coach Rainey Maloy said. “I was so proud of them for just stepping up and not getting down on themselves and shutting down. That’s probably the biggest takeaway tonight is just their attitude.”
Buckingham’s first goal came less than five minutes into the match. Winfield got called for a handball, which allowed her a free kick from 22 yards away from Winfield’s goal. Buckingham lobbed a beautiful shot that went high up in the top left part of the goalie box to give Augusta an early 1-0 lead.
As the match went on, Winfield seemed like it was slowly wearing down the Orioles. The Vikings even made an incredible play to tie the match 1-1 after breaking down the Orioles’ defense.
Augusta bounced back to push the offense the other way, and Buckingham made the play of the night. As she broke free on a run towards the goal, Winfield’s goalie came out. That might’ve given her trouble in the past, but Buckingham was ready for it this time.
“I hate when they come out, because I normally shoot it right at them, but against Rose Hill (earlier this season), I figured out that when they come out, I just take the touch around, and I’ll have the angel,” she said. “So I took it and it went in. It feels great.”
She got past the last defender and shot a goal across the box for the go-ahead goal with less than five minutes remaining.
“She had some excellent runs tonight, and we got some really good balls to her, so that was good,” Maloy said. “Just overall, the team played its best game of the year. They finally started to play like a team.”
Buckingham also felt the team gelled a lot.
“We’re talking a lot. We have times where we don’t talk, and those games aren’t as good. And we’re making good passes,” she said.