LILBURN — After two comeback wins to start the postseason, South Forsyth girls’ soccer team fell just shy of a third Tuesday night.
No. 3-ranked Parkview held a two-goal lead before the No. 10-ranked Lady War Eagles closed the gap at one with 9:17 left. South continued the all-out attack, but the Lady Panthers’ defense held firm to earn a 2-1 victory in the semifinals of the Class 6A girls state playoffs at Parkview.
“We spotted them a two-goal lead, cut the deficit in half and we never quit,” said South head coach Tom Braun. “We had some opportunities, but we were just a little high or the goalkeeper made some good saves on us and we thought we had [another comeback], but it just wasn’t meant to be.”
Parkview (19-3) took control of the match with four shots on goal and three corner kicks in the first five minutes.
South (16-6) keeper Hannah Goudy was unfazed and warded off the attacks.
The Lady Panthers nearly scored on a corner after Goudy deflected the initial shot, but a South defender cleared the ball just inches from the goal line.
Parkview finally broke through the defense in the 16th minute when Emma Carlson beat her defender near the top of the box and fired a shot into the bottom right corner of the net.
“This was our first game, no excuses now, on grass,” Braun said. “Game 22 on grass. We still weren’t used to it. Toward the latter part of the game it got a little slick and the footing was tough for both teams. We just started a little bit slow, but we recovered.
“They had top-quality players. We knew coming in that they were a very good and aggressive squad, good in the air, and they proved that. We told our kids the scouting report and they basically fought them tooth and nail to the very end.”
The Lady Panthers’ Elizabeth Quintanilla almost added another goal in the 30th minute with a close-range shot, but Goudy corralled the ball near the goal and kept the score 1-0.
Parkview finished the first half with nine shots on goal, while South had none.
“We had a good game plan going in,” Parkview head coach Judson Hamby said. “We felt like we tried to attack and make them … play to our advantage, and it worked. I felt like we probably could have scored a few other ones to kill the game, but give credit to them for fighting back.”
A little over a minute had gone by in the second half when Quintanilla gave Parkview a 2-0 lead. Goudy came out of the goal to charge the ball, but collided with a teammate and allowed Quintanilla an open net from about 8 yards out.
The Lady War Eagles found their groove midway through the second half and worked their way up the field.
With 21:29 left, Rachel Shah broke free of her defender and dribbled into the box with only the keeper to beat, but she lost control of the ball as the Parkview keeper charged.
South continued to send players forward and eventually earned its first corner of the second half in the 71st minute.
Tricia Surber took the corner and connected with Shah, who passed it to Abby Nearing for a quick shot into the bottom right corner of the goal to trim the lead to 2-1.
“As soon as that goal went in, I knew it was going to be the most stressful eight minutes of my life,” Hamby said.
The Lady War Eagles challenged the Parkview defense, but couldn’t get another shot past keeper Mariah Garner.
Shah dribbled deep in the box and eluded two defenders, but lost control as the defense collapsed around her with only 4:17 left.
In the final minute, South worked its way into Parkview territory, but the defense cleared the ball as time expired.
“Our kids played great, they never quit, played hard and left it between the white lines tonight, and that’s all we can ask,” Braun said. “I’m really proud of these kids for the season they had.
“It was a tremendous season. Going 16-6 in a very tough region, we were well prepared for the state tournament. Being county champs was great.
“We finished second in the region and got to the final four, so you can’t ask anymore from these kids … they played their hearts out.”