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Perfect penalty kicks send Heritage girls to Elite 8

Something special is happening on the Heritage soccer field this spring. The No. 9 Heritage girls were 5-for-5 in penalty kicks and Mady Carter made the only save she needed to make in a 3-2 victory over No. 5 North Paulding in the second round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs at Evans Memorial Stadium.

Heritage (15-4) will not only play an Elite 8 game for the second time in three seasons, but will join the Heritage boys, winners over Creekview in Tuesday’s round of 16, in the state quarterfinals this weekend.

The teams were tied at 2-2 and that score held up after two uneventful five-minute overtime periods.

In penalty kicks, each team started 3-for-3 with Heritage getting its goals from Carter, Kaley Wells and Ray Brown with visiting North Paulding (12-5) pulling even on tallies from Hannah Olsen, Taylor Davis and Brooke Olschewske.

After Piedmont College signee Abbey Dunlop put Heritage up 4-3, Avery Heid’s shot was saved easily by the Kennesaw State signee Carter. Ally Silvey calmly followed with the game-winner, sending Heritage to the quarterfinals for the 11th time in program history.

Heritage, which will host No. 3 Northgate either Friday or Saturday, trailed 2-1 before tying the game with 37:09 to go in regulation. Brown, who is headed to The Citadel in the fall, found just enough space between the top of Allen’s head and the net and her goal from about 18 yards out made it 2-2.

It stayed that way for a while, though both teams had one golden chance to pull ahead. Heritage’s Faith Shelton had a beautiful header to lead Sara Boggus on a breakaway and Boggus ended up 1-on-1 with Allen, but shot it well high of the net with six and a half minutes left. With 11 seconds to play, Christina Campbell hit the post with a shot that would’ve all but wrapped up the victory for the Dallas, Georgia school.

It was an action-packed first half, and though North Paulding led 2-1 at the break, it could’ve been worse for the host Patriots.

The Wolfpack had two chances in the last minute of the half to add to their one-goal cushion. Olschewske was fouled at about the 20-yard mark and Heid’s free kick clanged off the post. On the same possession, Emily Ratke took a shot from about 30 yards that was caught on the fly by Carter, which preceded the closing of the opening half.

North Paulding jumped on top with a goal less than three minutes into the contest. Erin Stitt was fouled in the box and Olsen ripped a penalty shot past Carter for a 1-0 lead at the 37:09 mark.

Heritage responded 18 minutes later, picking up the equalizer when an initial shot was left out in front of Allen and Jessica Walker put home the miss to even things up at 1-1 at the 19-minute mark.

Heid had a pair of shots stopped by Carter, but the Heritage keeper wasn’t as lucky at the five-minute mark.

Taylor Mancini out-ran the Patriots’ defense, got control of the ball and left a ball a few yards from the net. Heritage couldn’t clear the ball from the zone and Campbell had an easy goal that handed the Wolfpack a 2-1 lead with 4:55 to play in the half.