WHITE HALL — The White Hall boys soccer team all but wrapped up a 5A-Southeast Conference title Friday evening as the Bulldogs slipped past Monticello, 2-1, at Bulldog Stadium.

WHITE HALL — The White Hall boys soccer team all but wrapped up a 5A-Southeast Conference title Friday evening as the Bulldogs slipped past Monticello, 2-1, at Bulldog Stadium.

With the win, White Hall (12-3, 5-1 in 5A-Southeast) took a two-game lead in the conference standings with two games remaining. The Bulldogs will visit Little Rock Mills on Tuesday and will conclude the season with Senior Night next Friday against conference bottom-dweller North Pulaski.

“This was just huge for us to get this win and be in great position to win a conference title,” White Hall coach Don Malone said. “Our guys were very nervous about this game. These two teams are very evenly matched and we were just fortunate tonight that the soccer stars lined up in our favor.”

Jordan Lawson put the Bulldogs up in the 12th minute of the first half on a through ball from Ben Malone. Malone released the ball from the 40-yard line and Lawson gave chase, catching up and finding the back of the net from just inside the box after dribbling past and through two defenders. It was a redemption goal for Lawson, who had missed from point-blank range minutes earlier.

“That goal was just unbelievable,” Malone said. “He had been pressuring earlier and that one was all him.”

It was the only goal of the half allowed by Monticello goalie Joe Bostian, who matched White Hall’s Cody Jones save for save otherwise.

Jones was the savior for White Hall in the victory, especially in the first half when Monticello’s leading goal scorer Shane Bostian took fire on three separate occasions from short range, all either denied by Jones or misfired by Bostian.

“I think the pressure got to him,” Monticello coach Britnee Wright said of the Billies’ leading goal scorer. “With playoff seeding on the line I just think the pressure makes you crack.”

In the second half, Jones continued his domination in goal, turning away four shots until injuring himself in the 11th minute when Monticello’s Shiloh Gober sent a crossing pass across the box and Jones dove to make the stop, intercepting the ball just prior to Bostian’s foot redirecting it on goal.

Jones was removed from the game with a knee injury but re-entered 5 minutes later for Lawson, who filled in the gap.

“I landed really hard when I made that save,” Jones said. “I hit my knee when I went for the ball. I felt like I got hit. I thought I had torn something, but after a few minutes I knew I could come back in the game.”

Jones came up with the play of the game in the 18th minute of the second as Bostian was awarded a penalty kick, which he opted for the upper right corner. Jones got just enough of the ball to deflect it into the post and out of goal, preserving the 1-0 lead.

“Last year, ironically, they had a PK at their place and the same guy kicked it and he went the exact same way,” Jones said. “So I went by what he had previously done. It hit my fingers, then the post, then the back of my head.”

The Bulldogs were able to prevent a put-back attempt when Monticello was whistled for a foul to allow White Hall a free kick out of the shadow of its own goal.

The Bulldogs added a north wind-aided goal 5 minutes after that to take a 2-0 advantage with 12 minutes left. Garrett Griffith took a free kick from 70 yards out and the ball bounced in front of White Hall’s Ben Malone, who redirected a header past Bostian.

The Billies prevented the shutout with 15 seconds left in the contest when Gober scored on a corner kick from John Bonfanti.

Wright said she was disappointed to see her team lose after playing possibly its most cohesive game of the year.

“I am upset because they played so well,” she said. “That is probably the best we have played collectively all year and then just couldn’t finish.”