Heritage girls' soccer followed their male counterparts by punching their ticket to the Elite Eight of the Class AAAAA state tournament Wednesday with a 3-2 (5-3) win in penalty kicks over North Paulding.
After rallying twice to tie the game, keeper Mady Carter stopped the fourth North Paulding attempt in PKs before Ally Silvey scored the game winner on the Lady Patriots fifth shot. In fact, all five Heritage players scored goals in PKs including Carter who nailed the opening goal before taking her position in the box.
"I was confident in the second half and felt like it was just a matter of time before we would break through," Heritage coach Chad Suddeth said. "It was hot. I think the heat played a role. You could see some girls get tired but this is a resilient bunch. They don't quit and that's what we had to do to get this one."
Heritage trailed early after a trip inside the penalty box gave the Wolfpack a penalty kick in the opening minutes of the game. Hannah Olson stepped up and nailed it to give North Paulding the early 1-0 lead.
After constant pressure, Jessica Walker scored the equalizer for Heritage off a rebound inside the box to make it 1-1 at the 19-minute mark.
Heritage had more opportunities but was unable to cash in before halftime, then gave up the lead after a miscommunication between Carter and the defense led to another North Paulding goal with 4:56 left in the half. That would be it for the Wolfpack.
Down 2-1, Heritage wasted little time in pulling even again. This time it was Ray Brown who drilled a half volley off the crossbar and in the net on a bounce after a corner led to a loose ball at the 18-yard mark.
"We talked at halftime that although we were down, I really thought we gave them two gift goals," Suddeth said. "It was just some unorganized things. Mady and Ray got crossed up so we cost ourselves those two goals. And I really felt they didn't earn their stuff so I wasn't really worried about being down because we had more good looks."
The Lady Patriots nearly took the lead late when Sara Boggus ripped one high on a break away with just the keeper to beat. It would be Heritage's best chance down the stretch as the Wolfpack tightened up defensively to force overtime.
After two quick scoreless 5-minute periods that saw neither team really put anything together, Carter, Kaley Wells, Brown, Abby Dunlop and Silvey all stepped up to the PK spot and drilled their shots.
North Paulding played it goal for goal until Avery Hyde went right at Carter who guessed right after getting stood up on the previous two attempts.
Needing either one more goal or a final stop on North Paulding's final attempt, Silvey calmly slid a low liner past North Paulding's keeper to set off the celebration and propel the Lady Patriots in tho the quarter finals. They host Northgate Saturday at noon. Northgate defeated Harris County 4-0 earlier in the day to punch its ticket to the next round.
"I told the girls not to push the panic button because we had a lot more opportunities than they did," Suddeth said. "We put the ball in the mouth of the net a lot more than they did and we just had to keep pushing. But there's always room to get better and we'll have to do that to keep it going."