There was heartbreak for the home teams at the Brierpatch Wednesday night, as the visiting Lakeside High School soccer teams topped Greenbrier's squads in two tense matches.
Both the Wolfpack and the Lady Pack entered the Region 3-AAAA showdowns with great expectations, but those title dreams were dashed, and the Greenbrier boys and girls each were relegated to runners-up in the region for the fourth consecutive year.
The girls game featured a 2-2 tie through regulation play and overtime. Lakeside prevailed in the penalty-kick shootout by hitting four shots to Greenbrier's two.
"We haven't spent a whole lot of time on penalty kicks; maybe it cost us," Lady Wolfpack coach Alex Heider admitted.
Lakeside keeper Ansley Evans stopped a penalty shot, and another Greenbrier attempt was way off the mark.
The Lady Panthers had practiced penalty kicks the day before the match. The work paid off, as Jamie Lake, Kristen Cianciolo, Carty Dunn and Rebecca Bohler all hit perfect PKs to seal the win.
The boys game also appeared to be headed for OT, but Grant Guthrie scored with 6:50 remaining to give Lakeside a 1-0 victory.
"It's a completely different team from last year, but we're building a program here," Panthers coach Dave Morgan said. "We lose players from one year, and the younger guys step up. That's what's happening, and that's the greatest thing in the world."
Sophomore goalkeeper Lee Vick is one of the upstarts, and he came up big by posting a shutout. "Lee is so quick, and he knows the game better than most seniors," Morgan said. "He really organizes our whole team from the goal."
With the wins, Lakeside retained a stranglehold on Region 3-AAAA.
The Panthers can claim a third straight Region 3-AAAA championship (four in a row when counting a Region 2-AAAA title in 1999) by beating either Hephzibah or Thomson, and Lakeside has never lost to those region opponents.
Meanwhile, the defending region champion Lady Panthers clinched the 2002 crown at the Brierpatch, the team's fourth region title in six seasons.
The Lakeside girls played a tentative first half, and Greenbrier took advantage at the 25:54 mark - Corri Fennell lofted a corner kick to Laura Schmidt, who drove home a header to make it 1-0.
Later in the half, midfielder Nicki Gray stole a pass and fed the ball to Brooks Daniel for Greenbrier's second goal.
"I've always said the worst lead to have is 2-0," Heider said. "We were trying to get our third goal and they scored to make it 2-1. That made it anybody's ball game."
Dunn scored both Lakeside goals during regulation, and her initial strike with 4:22 remaining in the first changed the complexion of the match. "As soon as we scored, their heads got down and we just capitalized," Dunn said.
The nightcap was a physical, full-speed affair, with neither team managing to mount an attack from the midfield. "I thought they controlled the first half, and we controlled the second," Greenbrier coach Chip Warren said.
Greenbrier keeper Keith Borgner was in command of his position, except on one decisive play - Lakeside's Jonathan Wilson made a sideline run which drew Borgner out of the goal mouth. Wilson then crossed, and a wide-open Guthrie booted the game winner.
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