With the Region 3-AAAA soccer championships up for grabs Friday at the Brierpatch, the Lakeside High School girls took hold of their destiny, while the Greenbrier Wolfpack threw a wrench in the works.
The Lady Panthers beat Greenbrier 2-0 to essentially seal their title, but in the nightcap the other region race took a twist when the Pack battled Lakeside to a 0-0 deadlock.
"You'd hate for a tiebreaker to decide the region championship," Panthers coach Dave Morgan said. "We have to wait and see how those work out."
This season the Georgia High School Association eliminated overtime for soccer matches except in the state playoffs, which means Greenbrier and Lakeside will now be studying a white book very closely.
The GHSA Constitution and By-Laws, otherwise known as "the white bible," lists seven tiebreakers to decide region champions in soccer.
Lakeside's Jamie Lake (14) is
congratulated by her
teammates after scoring against Greenbrier in the first minute of the second half in the Region 3-AAAA match on Friday at the Brierpatch.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"The way I read it is that since we tied, if both team finish with the same region record, the tiebreaker will be goals allowed vs. region opponents," Pack coach Chip Warren said. "We've given up one and Lakeside has given up two."
That's one reason why the Panthers were distraught after the match. Should Greenbrier post shutout wins in its final three region games, the Pack will defend their Region 3-AAAA crown, regardless of how Lakeside fares.
"We just have to go out and play our games, and Greenbrier will do the same," Morgan said. "However it works out, it works out."
Lady Panthers impressive
The Lakeside girls have no such worries after an impressive display against Greenbrier.
"Defensively we were error-free, and that was the key," Lady Panthers coach Donny Rogers said. "Denying the ball to their front line was our focus all week, and the defenders did a good job of that."
Rogers has employed numerous lineups this season, and he had the right players in the right places Friday.
Sophomore Sierra Morris, in just her second start at sweeper, controlled the back line, with assistance from defenders Taryn Ericson and Kim Leeds, who helped neutralize Greenbrier threats Nicki Gray, Whitney Wise and Stephanie Fransoso.
With Lakeside midfielders Rebecca Bohler, Ashley Wray and Ansley Evans clogged up passing lanes, Greenbrier was forced to take low-percentage shots, which played right into the hands of Lady Panther keeper Carty Dunn.
"Our defense just played great," Dunn said. "They denied the ball and didn't allow them to get shots, except the long ones, which were pretty easy for me to handle."
Lakeside strikers Susanne Rogers and Jamie Lake proved hard to handle.
Midway through the first half, Lake fed a cross to Rogers, who faked a defender and drilled the initial goal.
Lake struck again early in the second half - the senior made a steal, then laced a pass to the far post. Wray managed a diving shot back across the goal-mouth, and Lake was there to drive it home.
"We thought we could beat their defenders on the flank, and we had the confidence to put the ball in," Lake said.
Pack, Panthers deadlock
Heading into the Greenbrier-Lakeside matches, conventional wisdom was that the girls' game was a toss up, and that the Panthers would handle the Pack.
Conventional wisdom went out the window midway through the first half of the boys' game.
The Pack applied so much pressure it was hard to imagine their record was 4-5.
"Our team came out ready to play. They played with intensity we haven't seen," Warren said. "It looks like some of our younger guys are big-game players and there's no game bigger than Lakeside."
Lakeside, meanwhile, entered the match with a 12-1-1 mark and the No. 4 ranking in Class AAAA, but the Panthers looked more like underdogs than top dogs.
"Our guys don't think they played well, and I have to agree with them," said Morgan, who credited the Pack with causing some of the problems. "Greenbrier played high pressure in the midfield, and we haven't been pressured like that before. That was a good lesson for us."
Senior sweeper Matt Stokes anchored the Greenbrier defense, and goalkeeper Jonathan Shackleford preserved the tie with several sparkling saves in the second half.
Lakeside's Michael Clark, Stephen Martin and Brad Drawdy all had good shots on goal, but Shackleford notched stops each time. In all, the Panthers recorded 11 shots in the second half to Greenbrier's three.
"If we'd finished our chances, we played well enough to score two or three goals," Morgan said.
The only numbers that mattered, though, were the pair of zeros on the scoreboard.
"We just weathered the storm there at the end," Warren said.
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