Heritage midfielder Ally Silvey completes a throw-in during Thursday’s win over Gainesville. Staff photo by Kurt Aschermann Jr.
Sara Boggus took care of the scoring and Mady Carter made it stand up. Now the Heritage girls soccer team is just one win from a region championship.
Boggus scored the go-ahead goal late in the second half and Carter made two huge saves over the final 3:15 as the Class AAAAA No. 8 Patriots defeated No. 6 Gainesville 2-1 at Evans Memorial Stadium.
The win, Heritage’s seventh in a row, kept the Conyers school unbeaten at 7-0 in Region 8-AAAAA, while dropping the visiting Red Elephants (11-2-1) to 6-1. Heritage’s regular season finale against 6-1 Loganville April 22 will now go a long way towards deciding the league crown.
If Loganville wins, Gainesville can still capture the region crown if it defeats Clarke Central that same day.
It looked as if the teams were headed to overtime before Boggus broke through. Kaley Wells took the initial shot that was knocked away by Gainesville keeper Ashlie Gonzalez, then Boggus corralled the rebound and beat Gonzalez for a 2-1 lead.
Gainesville tried to pull even, but Carter was outstanding down the stretch. The Kennesaw State signee made a great stop on an attempt by Margaret Espinoza at the 3:15 mark, then two minutes later, Carter came up with a diving stop on Alyssa Turner’s shot.
“We’re real pleased for the victory,” said Heritage coach Chad Suddeth. “Mady was huge at the end, it’s great having the experienced keeper that keeps composure. She’s a shot blocker, really doesn’t surprise me. (Boggus is) a smart player and she anticipates well, she’s normally in the right place at the eight time. And she certainly was there.”
A pair of second-chance opportunities led to a 1-1 tie at halftime.
Heritage stunned the visitors with a goal three minutes into the game. Boggus attempted a shot and Gonzalez made a nice save. The ball didn’t get far enough away, though, and Faith Shelton scored to put the Patriots up 1-0 at the 37-minute mark.
Shelton had three other scoring chances in the opening half, but Gonzalez knocked away two and scooped up the other shot, and with 12 minutes to play a nice cross from Shelton didn’t lead to a goal when Boggus’ attempt was wide. Gainesville forwards Anna Youmans and Breana Fair were stymied by Carter on two occasions in the first before the Red Elephants picked up the equalizer with 17:11 left.
Youmans had the initial shot that was saved, then Turner got one past Carter to even things up at 1-1.
“We were outplayed, especially in the midfield,” Suddeth said. “We’ll take it. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good…great teams find a way when (they) don’t have our ‘A’ game.”
The Class AAAAA No. 3 Gainesville boys won their ninth consecutive game, defeating the No. 10 Patriots 3-0 in the nightcap.
After a scoreless first 51 minutes, Gainesville (12-1-1, 7-0 Region 8-AAAAA) broke through for the only goal it would need with 29:03 to play. Heritage committed a foul in the penalty box and Caesar Regaldo converted the penalty shot for a 1-0 lead.
Omar Perez was offsides, which disallowed his goal at the 26:52 mark, but the Red Elephants made it a 2-0 game three minutes later when Cesar Salcido collected a rebound and beat Heritage keeper Connor Domeleski.
Oner Turcious made it 3-0 when he rebounded his own miss and snuck a shot into the corner of the net with 6:42 to go in the game.
“I think they’re probably the number two team in the state, they’re legit,” Heritage coach Brandon Stewart said of Gainesville.
Each team squandered a huge chance within the first 18 minutes of the game.
Heritage (11-4, 4-3) forward Austin Kulp had a breakaway and was one-on-one with Gainesville keeper Gage Turner, but Kulp’s shot was wide at the 28:06 mark. Heritage’s Brandon Baker was hit with a hand ball foul in the box and that led to a Gainesville penalty shot. With 21:44 to go in the opening half, Ricardo Gomez’s shot was saved by a diving Domeleski.
Domeleski made two more diving saves off attempts by Regaldo and Esteban Bautista, while Turner had made a lunging stop of an Adam North shot earlier in the opening half.