MARIETTA — Tom Braun could only laugh and shake his head after the final horn sounded. His girls soccer team had done it again.
For the second straight game, No. 10-ranked South Forsyth battled back from a deficit with less than 10 minutes to play.
South trailed 1-0 until Rachel Shah connected on an 8-yard free kick with 8:17 left in regulation to tie the game. Shah’s goal sent the match into overtime, where Mackenzie Norton fired a 10-yard shot past the keeper with 3:29 left in the second overtime period to give South a 2-1 victory over No. 7-ranked Walton in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs on Tuesday at Walton High School.
The No. 2-seed Lady War Eagles snapped No. 1-seed Walton’s 10-game winning streak, including six straight games without giving up a goal. South will advance to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2011.
"We’ll take [wins] any way we can get them," Braun said. "You know, our kids let in a hard goal in the first half and our kids never quit. We pushed up and kept attacking and stuck with the gameplan.
"… It was a great team effort. We defended extremely well and offensively we attacked well and finally controlled the midfield, so it was a great team effort against a very good squad."
Walton (13-4-2) controlled the ball for much of the first half and broke through the South (15-5) defense with a cross from Lucy Sanders to Maddie Wellstead in the 35th minute to take a 1-0 advantage at halftime.
The Lady War Eagles pressed on offense throughout the second half and finally found the back of the net courtesy of Shah. The junior drib bled to the far right edge of the box with two defenders guarding her before an official called an obstruction penalty. Shah lined up the free kick and lifted it over the keeper into the top left of the net to tie the game.
"… I’m surprised they didn’t charge [the penalty] sooner," Shah said. "[The free kick] gave me time to chip it over. The keeper was lining up the wall in the near post and she didn’t go all the way to her positioning so I saw that, so I went far post.
"I’m really proud of my team and how we performed; it takes a lot to come back. I’m glad we never gave up."
South almost had another goal with 23 seconds left in regulation, but Ashley Mitchell barely missed a close-range shot.
The Lady Raiders controlled the ball in the first overtime period and nearly took the lead, as they took three consecutive shots within a span of a few seconds, but South goalie Hannah Goudy held her ground and blocked every shot.
"Hannah was incredible," Braun said. "She was just reacting — just total reactions three straight times — and was able to save each one of them, which was incredible. They had a great flurry of shots and we came up big."
South carried that momentum over to the offensive end in the second overtime period, as Norton received a quick pass on the left side of the box from Shah before placing her shot into the bottom right corner of the net to take a 2-1 lead.
"Rachel had the ball and she dribbled down to the end of the field and she just cut it back and I was right there and hit it far right post," Norton said.
"I think we just picked up the intensity. We knew this could be our last game, so we definitely picked it up and communicated more and connected our passes."
The Lady War Eagles will travel to Hillgrove (15-4-1) in the quarterfinals on Friday.