Loganville’s Jessica Moore (17) plays the ball as Sara Jo Greer of Heritage defends Tuesday in Conyers. Heritage won 4-2 to claim the program’s first region title in nine years. Staff photo by Kurt Aschermann Jr.
The brilliance of Faith Shelton on the soccer field was on full display Tuesday, and for the Heritage girls soccer team it couldn’t have come at a better time.
The sophomore forward scored four goals and the Patriots defeated Loganville 4-2 at Evans Memorial Stadium to capture the Region 8-AAAAA championship. It’s the first league title for Heritage since 2005 and fifth overall. The Conyers school, which won all eight of its league games and finished 13-4 overall, will host a No. 4 seed from Region 6 when the state playoffs begin April 29.
“I’m overwhelmed with joy and pride,” said Heritage coach Chad Suddeth. “It’s been long journey and a lot of the veteran girls that have been with me for a while have been in this situation, and we let it slip away. But I’m so proud of them taking care of business tonight.”
The game was tied at 2-2 before Shelton led the Patriots to the league crown. With just under 26 minutes left in the game, she scored to put Heritage up for the first time and for good at 3-2. Shelton had two shots denied on diving, kick-saves by Loganville (14-3, 6-2) keeper Kendall Ivey, but Shelton was not denied with about three minutes to go when her goal gave the hosts some breathing room.
“She certainly was in ‘beast mode’ tonight,” Suddeth said of Shelton.
It was a scoreless game until a frantic half-minute of play produced the first two scores of the game.
Loganville had a corner kick, and after an initial shot, Jessica Moore beat a diving Heritage keeper Mady Carter for a 1-0 lead at the 16:55 mark.
Heritage answered with the equalizer just 25 seconds later as Shelton got free and scored on Alvey to tie the game at 1-1 with 16:30 to play until halftime.
The rest of the opening half was about the keepers. Carter made two first-half saves and scooped up two other chances, both off the foot of Samantha Cosby.
Alvey stymied Sara Boggus with a diving stop on a breakaway at the 32:53 mark. Later, Alvey made three other saves and the Patriots were wide on four separate occasions, two by Boggus, who couldn’t convert off a crossing pass at the eight-minute mark for Heritage’s final chance of the half.
Loganville went up 1-0 on the first of two goals by Jessica Moore at the 16:55 mark, but Shelton tied things with a goal 25 seconds later. The visitors from Hall County again took the lead on a Moore goal a little over 10 minutes into the second half and again, Shelton tied the game, knifing past two defenders and scoring a beautiful goal with 28:09 to play.
The Heritage boys wrapped up a state playoff spot with a 5-2 victory in the nightcap. Austin Kulp scored twice, Adam North added a goal and assist and Edel Ramos two assists for Heritage (12-5, 5-3).
Heritage will be the No. 3 seed and open the state tournament with the Region 6-AAAAAA runner-up.