If the rest of the state soccer playoffs is anything like the first round, South Forsyth head coach Tom Braun may need a long vacation when it’s all over.
No. 3-seed Duluth had shutout four of its last sixth opponents, and led No. 2-seed South Forsyth 1-0 with less than three minutes to play.
Then everything changed.
The No. 10-ranked Lady War Eagles rattled off two goals in one minute and 21 seconds behind Brie Haynes and Rachel Shah to stun Duluth 2-1 in the first round of the Class 6A soccer playoffs on Tuesday at War Eagle Stadium.
"I get worried," Braun said. "The other coaches get worried, [but] they just [had] to keep fighting and working, and they did that and never gave up and it wound up being a good victory."
Haynes normally starts in goal before playing forward in the second half, but Braun elected to start her as a forward and put Hannah Goudy as the keeper for both halves. The move paid off as Haynes took a cross from Shah and chipped it over goalie Tiffany Sornpao to tie the game at 1-1 with 2:26 left on the clock.
"We heard they were very good and played physical and Brie sometimes can bang a little bit," Braun said. "She wound up getting the tying goal, and it was a big goal."
Before the Lady Wildcats (9-7) knew what happened, South (14-5) struck again. Mackenzie Norton executed a through-ball to Shah near the 15 yard line with only the keeper to beat. Shah made a move to the right and then fired a shot into the left of the goal to give South a 2-1 lead with 47 seconds remaining.
"I saw the keeper coming out, so I just took a touch right and after that it was easy," Shah said. "Honestly in one-v-one, there’s not much a keeper can do …"
After a scoreless first half, Duluth’s Hannah Huizenga recorded the first goal of the match in the 44th minute with a powerful shot from the top of the box that Goudy couldn’t control, and rolled into the net. Goudy and the defense didn’t allow another mishap, as they limited Duluth to only four shots on goal in the second half.
"It was a defensive battle in the first half and they snuck one in real quick in the second half," Braun said.
"I knew we had plenty of time and we didn’t panic and kept plugging away and finally the ball fell in the back of the net in the last couple of minutes."
Shah came close to tying the game in the 55th minute, but her shot deep in the box hit off the crossbar and was cleared by the defense. Haynes nearly had a goal in the first five minutes of the game, but her goal was waived off due to an offside penalty.
"[The rally] just shows that our team doesn’t give until the very last minute," Shah said. "I’m very proud of everybody and I’m just glad we’re going on to the next round. After this win, I think our spirits are really high right now and I believe we can go all the way."
The Lady War Eagles will travel to No. 7-ranked Walton on Tuesday.