The final minute of the first half and the opening minute of the second turned out to be the most important stretch for the Heritage boys soccer team Tuesday.
Gustavo Martinez's goal with 52 seconds left in the opening half broke a scoreless tie and Chris Raines' goal at the 39:02 mark of the second was all Heritage would need in a 3-1 victory over Union Grove in non-region play at Evans Memorial Stadium.
Heritage extended its unbeaten streak to seven games (6-0-1) and improved to 7-3-2, while the visitors from McDonough fell to 4-2-2.
Both defenses were solid through the first 39 minutes before Martinez was tripped in the box, leading to penalty shot, which the senior rifled past Union Grove keeper Kenny Hearn for a 1-0 lead. After the break, Mauricio Reyes made a great play to get the ball deep in Wolverines' territory, Jeffrey Lawson set up Raines with a perfect pass and Raines put away his third goal in two games to make it 2-0.
"He's just a super, high-energy guy, he's been at the right place at the right time," Heritage coach Brandon Stewart said of Raines. "That (second goal) energized us."
Union Grove cut the deficit in half at the 24:27 mark when Grant DePertius blasted a shot past keeper Alejandro Alvarado. But Alvarado made three saves over a 10-minute span, and freshman Andre Deas corralled a rebound and picked up an insurance goal, his first as a varsity player, with 7:38 left in the game.
"When they cut it to 2-1 ... our kids didn't panic, they fought back," Stewart said. "Last year we were playing not to lose, this year we're playing to win. I think we're a more complete team."
SOCCER UPDATES: The Rockdale girls soccer team got its first two goals of the season Tuesday in a 4-2 loss to Alcovy. Afrianna Benn drew a foul in the box and Megan Calik scored on the penalty shot for the Bulldogs' first goal of the season, and later, Benn added a second goal. Rockdale fell to 0-10 ... Since winning five consecutive games, the Salem's girls have lost three straight, the last of which coming at the hands of Apalachee, 5-3 Tuesday. The Salem boys lost their sixth consecutive game, 5-2 to Apalachee in the nightcap.