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Lady Seminoles fall to Whitewater in a penalty kick thriller

CONYERS - The Salem girls soccer team came up just short to fellow Class-AAAA powerhouse Whitewater at Evans Memorial Stadium on Monday, falling 3-2 in penalty kicks.

The friendly match pitted two teams ranked in the top five in Class-AAAA, with Salem looking for a strong outing before its much- anticipated matchup with Heritage on Friday.

But with temperatures in the 30s, Whitewater came from behind twice in regulation to earn a 2-2 tie before edging the Lady Seminoles 4-3 in PKs.

"I thought we played very well," Salem coach Heather Richardson said. "I thought it was probably one of the best games we played all season as far as moving the ball and getting opportunities to score because that is a quality team.

"Going into PKs is such good practice for us and it's something we might see again, so I'm glad we were able to do that. I would have much rather finished it off to begin with, but games like this are good for us."

Both teams started off methodically working the ball in the middle of the field and neither team could break through in the first half.

Salem appeared to take the lead as time expired in the half, but Taylor Gates was unable to beat the horn as her shot went in, but was ruled too late by the referees.

The Lady Seminoles came out with more pressure in the second half and played on Whitewater's side of the field for the majority of the first 10 minutes.

Brittany Beaumont finally broke the scoreless tie when she buried a shot in the left corner after taking a nice through-ball from Jordan Young.

Unfazed, Whitewater answered seven minutes later to tie the game at 1-1 with 26:13 remaining.

Beaumont came close to giving the Lady Seminoles the lead with less than fifteen minutes to go, but a brilliant save by the Whitewater keeper kept the score knotted at one.

Salem kept the pressure on and Brittany Whitson fired a low screamer in the left corner of the net put the Lady Seminoles up 2-1 with 12:04 remaining.

But like before, Whitewater came right back and tied the game three minutes later with a breakaway goal that Salem keeper Kellianne Collins had no chance on.

The two teams finished regulation play tied 2-2 and were unable to do anything in two five-minute overtime periods.

Salem went up 2-1 in PKs after Beaumont and Whitson both scored, and Collins made a gutsy save in the box.

Ashley Miller made it 3-1, but Whitewater hit its next two, while Salem missed its remaining shots.

With the score in PK's tied 3-3, Salem missed its next shot and Whitewater capitalized, burying a shot in the left corner for the win.

Even though her team didn't pull it out in the end, Richardson knew they played a good team and may get another shot at them down the road.

"That's what we are going to prepare for if we are going to go on and do anything after region play," added Richardson. "It's possible we'll see them again. They were the state champions last year, and to come out with a game like this, and a performance like this, I feel very good."