With the tension building as time kept counting down, the girls Region 2-AAAAA region championship was determined when time wasn’t a factor.
After Greenbrier and Lakeside finished 80 minutes of regulation and two five-minute overtime periods tied at one, the squads went to penalty kicks to decide it. When the Lady Wolfpack’s fifth and final shooter Emily Ludwig’s ball hit the crossbar and bounced out, the Lakeside Lady Panthers sprinted across the field to mob goalkeeper Rachel Hardin.
During penalty kicks, Lakeside’s Mariana Gonzalez and Cassandra Wade found the back of the net and the Lady Wolfpack could muster only an Alisa Williams tally and the Lady Panthers dethroned the reigning region champions.
“It’s a great feeling, I’m just proud of the girls,” said Lakeside head coach Nick Edmond. “I feel bad for Greenbrier, PKs go either way. They have a great team, they’re going to do well in state as well. Our girls have been talking about this from day one.”
With the win, the Lady Panthers (12-2, 8-1) are a No. 1 seed in the 2012-2013 GHSA Class AAAAA Girls State Soccer Tournament and will play host to the No. 4 seed from Region 3 on Tuesday. As a No. 2 seed, the Lady Wolfpack (9-5-2, 7-2) will play host to Region 3’s No. 3 seed.
“The past two years we’ve only been to the first and second round,” said Hardin. “This year I know I have my sights as well as the team a lot higher than that. We’re going to go as far as we can.”
It was only apt that the match came down to penalty kicks as the teams split during the regular season, Greenbrier wining 3-1 and Lakeside winning 1-0.
While the game was played mostly in the Lakeside end, the Lady Panthers struck first with 36 seconds remaining in the first half when Cassandra Wade got the ball from just behind midfield, dribbled to just outside the Lady Wolfpack goal box, centered the ball for sophpmore Devin Haygood who hammered it past goalie Madison Campbell.
In the second half, the Lady Wolfpack scored the tying goal with 28:10 left in the game. When a penalty was called on Lakeside after a collison in the Lakeside box, Ludwig got her penalty kick into the upper left hand side of the goal off the hands of a diving Hardin.
Lady Wolfpack head coach Wes Kendrick was confident his team would be ready for the state tournament, but that it might take a day or two to shake off the defeat.
“The shootout is a hard way to go and they’ve got their heads down,” said Kendrick. “The biggest thing is they went out there and gave 100 percent and to lose that way is tough.”
The battle for third place in the boys Region 2-AAAAA tournament was decided when Evans’ Jake Shepherd played the ball to Justin Dowdle who headed it in for a goal with 28:44 left in the game, beating Greenbrier (10-4-3, 6-3) 1-0.
The Knights (11-5, 6-3) will travel to Richmond Hill on Wednesday, May 1 in the opening round of the 2012-2013 GHSA Class AAAAA Boys State Soccer Tournament while the Wolfpack travel to Glynn Academy.
“Our goal is last year we were one and done in the state playoffs and we want to improve on that, we’re good enough to do it,” said Evans head coach Brian Killips. “I give all the credit in the world to the Greenbrier kids the way they played tonight.”
The Wolfpack had some good looks in the first half, but couldn’t convert their chances.
“If we could have finished any of our opportunities it would have been a different game,” said Wolfpack head coach Chip Warren. “I felt we kept the pressure on them, especially in the first half, they picked up their intensity a little in the second.”