Heritage defeats Clarke Central on penalty kicks

CONYERS -- It had been just three days since the Heritage boys soccer team lost in heartbreaking fashion on penalty kicks to Whitewater.

Alejandro Alvarado made sure that didn't happen again on Friday in Conyers. The goalkeeper made a diving save of Igli Mina's shot, which followed Jeffrey Lawson's goal as the Patriots won 6-5 in penalty kicks over Clarke Central.

The first three players on each team converted their kicks, but in the fourth round Alvarado and Clarke Central keeper Sh'Den Tseggai made saves. Austin Kulp and Delvin Bickham scored for Heritage and Alexander Crain and Jonathan Rogel for the Gladiators in rounds five and six, setting up Lawson and Alvarado's heroics.

Heritage (2-3-1, 2-0 Region 8-AAAA) had tied the game with 13:23 left in regulation on a goal by Chris Raines. That followed a penalty kick goal by Henry Scott at the 24:14 mark that gave the visitors a 3-2 lead.

During two, five-minute overtime periods, only Kulp was able to get a shot on goal.

Clarke Central (3-3, 1-1) led 2-0 at halftime, thanks to goals by Jorgie Delgado and Hector Martinez with Martinez's goal coming off a pretty pass from Matthew Ward with 3:42 to go until halftime. The Gladiators changed keepers to start the second half and the move backfired. With Noah Welch in net, Heritage got a goal less than two minutes into the half as Mauricio Reyes made a nifty move to score and cut the deficit to 2-1. Two minutes later, Harrison Kulp rifled a shot past Welch to tie the game at 2-2. Tseggai replaced Welch at the 25:40 mark, and Raines' tying goal came just after the forward was subbed into the game.

The Class AAAA No. 8 Heritage girls stayed unbeaten with a dominant, 6-0 win in the first game of the night. Courtney Hodges had a hat trick and Ray Brown added two goals as Heritage (5-0-1, 2-0) out-shot the Gladiators 30-2.

Heritage jumped on top early as it took Hodges less than a minute to find the back of the net. Brown followed four minutes later with the first of her goals that slipped through keeper Katherine Partida's legs to make it 2-0. The Patriots were in a giving mood over the final 30 minutes of the half as Haley Elliot, Kaley Wells, Arielle Gunderson and Laura Zawadzki each assisted on a goal, the last of which saw Gunderson put away Zawadzki's corner kick with a nice header with 44 seconds until halftime.

"Glad we got off to a good start," said Heritage coach Chad Suddeth. "That's the difference this year than in years past, that's a good thing about this bunch, we can have fun and work hard. Very proud of that."

Clarke Central (0-5-1, 0-2) didn't get a shot on goal until 15:20 remained in the game as the Patriots secured their fifth shut out win of the young season.