Heritage’s Austin McMillan dribbles the ball against Creekview in Tuesday’s Class AAAAA second round game. Heritage won 2-1. (Staff photo by Kurt Aschermann Jr.)
CANTON - On the biggest stage, the youth of the Heritage boys soccer team stood out again. Freshman Edder Mendez and sophomore Adam North each scored a goal and No. 3 seed Heritage upset Region 7 champion and No. 10 Creekview in the second round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs.
The Conyers school (14-5) will travel to Augusta to play Region 2 champion and eurosportscoreboard.com No. 4 Greenbrier-a 6-0, round two winner over Bainbridge-in the Elite 8 this weekend. It’s the program’s first round of eight trip since the 2002-2003 team shared the AAAA state championship with Dalton.
“They found a way to win,” said Heritage coach Brandon Stewart, who made his third trip to the round of 16 Tuesday, and will bring a team to the state quarterfinals for the first time. “It’s the worst game we played in over a month (but) they have that mentality of not giving up.”
Mendez scored with nine and a half minutes to play with a shot that found the back, left corner of the net for a 2-1 lead. Creekview (10-6-3) found space on a handful of occassions over the final nine minutes, but the Heritage defense, which has surrendered just one goal in two playoff games, allowed just one shot on goal-Sergio Pacheco’s long shot that was corralled by sophomore keeper Connor Domeleski-during that final stretch.
“We held on for dear life,” Stewart said.
The host Grizzlies, who were playing in the state tournament for the first time since 2010, led 1-0 before Heritage got the equalizer a little over five minutes into the second half on North’s unassisted goal from the corner. Before that, Creekview had picked up the first tally of the evening 44 seconds into the half on a header by Miguel Sanchez.
“They answered (the Sanchez goal) within five minutes,” Stewart said. “The mark of a good team is when you can win when you’re not playing your best.”
Creekview had a great chance to score late in the opening half when Sanchez corralled a pass deep in Heritage territory. Sanchez was in a 1-on-1 spot with Domeleski and the Heritage keeper made a dazzling save, knocking away what looked to be a sure goal at the 2:21 mark to keep the game scoreless.
A minute and a half later, Sanchez left a nice pass for Marcos Cruz, but the forward couldn’t do much with it and Domeleski scopped up the loose ball in front of the net. Heritage had two shots on goal in the first, but shots by Austin Kulp and Jonathan Mendez were saved by keeper Samuel Pelletier. Creekview defenseman Adam Miles nearly gave Heritage the first lead when he tried to clear a ball and it went about three yards wide of his own net with 10:35 to play until halftime. Earlier, Sanchez left a ball for Cade Pantano, who was just wide at the 18:50 mark.