CONYERS - Rockdale's soccer squads came away with a tie and a loss Friday against Athens Academy in a damp doubleheader at Reid Memorial Stadium.
The Rockdale girls opened the twin bill with a 7-2 loss to the Lady Spartans, while the boys battled to a 1-1 tie in the nightcap.
Rockdale boys 1, Athens Academy 1
Rockdale fell behind 1-0 with 29:22 left in the first half off a goal by the Spartans' Brian Banister.
Rockdale had a pair of near-goals in the first half, but neither shot was on point and the 1-0 count held until halftime.
The Bulldogs (1-6-1) evened the score in the second half when Leonardo Gonzalez chested in a goal from point-blank range with 21:51 left in the game. Gonzalez received the ball less than a yard in front of the goal after some fancy passing from Brandon Story and Angel Villanueva.
The Bulldogs threatened to take the lead with 17:27 left in the game, but Ryan Young's left-footed laser bounced off the crossbar.
Both teams pressed the action and had solid scoring opportunities in the game's final 10 minutes.
Rockdale's best chances came of a series of corner kicks by Young. However, no Bulldog was able to serve up a strong enough volley to get it past the keeper.
The final horn sounded with the score still tied.
"A tie is better than a loss," Rockdale boys coach Brian Travis said. "We started out strong in the first half. Possession was good, and the intensity was good. Unfortunately, we seem to get in that lull where we give up a goal that puts us behind. But that's been part of the challenge this week - to test them. Overall, I think it was a good game. We tied (Athens Academy) 3-3 last year at their place, so it's always a real competitive game. I thought we did a lot better job today of working as a team. I think this is a new start for us."
Athens Academy girls 7, Rockdale 2
The Lady Spartans drew first blood when Emily O'Rear scored a goal with 25:43 left in the first half.
The Lady Bulldogs (2-7) evened the match when Nicole Young blasted a shot past the keeper with 13:32 left until halftime, but the Lady Spartans retook the lead with 7:46 left off a goal by Abby Trevino.
The 2-1 count held until the break.
The Lady Spartans controlled the tempo in the second half and built a 5-1 lead.
Rockdale's Cassie Ireland got a goal back for the Lady Bulldogs at 19:05, but that was as close as the game would get. Athens Academy tacked on two more goals to make the final tally 7-2.
Rockdale girls assistant coach Alf Holst said he was disappointed with the loss, even though his team was playing short-handed.
"We were lacking some players due to other commitments, so we didn't have our full squad," Holst said. "Also, during the match, we lost one of our key central midfielders, Lindsay Geise. Her knee was acting up, and we have an important region game coming up, so I made a coaching decision to pull her out and save her for the Salem match. We were also lacking starters Rebecca Carlin and Emily Boyer, who were at school functions.
"Overall, I think the effort was there. Some players seemed to lack focus. Hopefully we'll be prepared for our region matches."
Rockdale plays again Tuesday at Grayson.
Brandon Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.