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North, Domaleski lead Heritage past North Oconee
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Heritage soccer split a non-region matchup with North Oconee Tuesday with the girls dropping the opener 2-1 before the boys exacted revenge with a 3-2 (4-1) win on penalty kicks. 

Emily Kimpling scored Heritage's lone goal late in the contest to give the Lady Patriots hope and almost tied it inside of 30 seconds but was denied by North Oconee's keeper.

Led by a pair of sophomores, forward Adam North and goal keeper Conner Domaleski, the Patriots survived a late charge and won 4-1 on penalty kicks. North scored three times including both of Heritage's goals in regulation while Domaleski turned in a solid performance before stopping two of three penalty kicks to give his team the win.

Boys, Heritage 3, North Oconee 2 (4-1 on penalty kicks)

North Oconee tested Domaleski repeatedly in regulation including a flurry of late shots but the underclassmen ultimately showed why he's considered one of the top keeper prospects when he denied the Titans on their first and third penalty kick attempts.

"We feel confident with him going into PKs anytime. He's gotten better and better as the year has gone on," Heritage coach Brandon Stewart said. "We feel like that's one of our strongest positions on the entire field. He showed why he's one of the best keepers in the state regardless of age."

Jonathan Mendez scored Heritage's fourth attempt in penalty kicks to seal the win. Austin Kulp and Akil Williams each also scored penalty kicks and North converted his attempt to complete the hat trick.

Heritage looked like it was going to cruise to the win before North Oconee responded with a strong final 20 minutes. The Patriots led 2-0 with less than 15 minutes remaining in regulation before the Titans scored two unanswered goals to force overtime. 

"This game should have been over in the first half," Stewart said. "If we get that third goal, that would have sealed it. But our youth really showed when we gave up that first goal. We didn't match their intensity and kind of got behind ourselves. But that's why we scheduled a tough team like North Oconee."

With 14:46 left in regulation, Sean Fitzgerald scored to make it a 2-1 Heritage lead. Roughly 10 minutes later, Reed Blevins cleaned up a loose ball inside the box for the equalizing goal to knot the game at 2-2.

Neither team managed a goal in overtime setting the stage for Domaleski. After Kulp scored to open penalty kicks, Domaleski turned away Justin Peachey to give the Patriots a 1-0 lead. North followed with a goal before Fitzgerald beat Domaleski to pull the Titans to within a goal at 2-1. 

Williams scored to make it 3-1 and Domaleski shut the door again with a save on Garrett Walker's penalty kick attempt. Needing just one goal with two players left to shoot, Mendez beat North Oconee keeper Kyle Chiu for the game winner.

North opened the scoring with a goal off a double-tap one-timer from Mendez and Austin McMillan at the 29:40 mark of the first half to give the Patriots a 1-0 halftime lead. North scored again with 25:55 left in regulation to put Heritage up 2-0.

North Oconee picked up the intensity after scoring its first goal of the match late and the Patriots were unable to hold on to the lead. Thankfully for Stewart, his sophomore sensation bailed his team out in penalty kicks.

"This was a teaching moment. Not closing out games--not closing out teams, when you let them hang around, you're in for a fight and that's what happened," Stewart said. "We have to continue to build up to where we play 80 minutes. We're not there yet but this was a good learning experience." 

Girls, North Oconee 2, Heritage 1

The Lady Titans broke a scoreless game with less than a minute to go in the first half on Dani Crumley's goal and added a second goal when Makenzie Mullins was able to get a foot on a loose ball in front of the net with 15:05 to play in the game. 

North Oconee pressured the Lady Patriots throughout the first half before finally breaking through when Crumley slipped in behind the Heritage defense and took a cross from Jessie Denney for a full volley one-timer. 

"You have to give her (Crumley) props. That was a great goal," Lady Patriot coach Chad Suddeth said. "They got it wide and sent it in and finished the goal with a beautiful one-timer. I don't think we misplayed it. I just think it was a great goal. We really couldn't have defended it any better." 

Despite outshooting North Oconee 7-4 in the first half, Heritage was unable to capitalize and trailed 1-0 at the half.

"They really only got the one shot inside the box and that was point blank," Suddeth said. "I told the girls at halftime to keep playing and we'd eventually convert. We just couldn't get anything to go in the back of the net,"

Heritage attempted to rally late with Kimpling's goal cutting the deficit in half. As spectacular as Crumley's goal was, Kimpling's might have been even better. The freshman connected on a header off a cross from fellow freshman Sarah Boggus. 

"Sarah did a great job on that ball," Suddeth said. "She kept her head up and didn't rush it and Emily put a great strike on the ball so I was proud to see that."

But North Oconee responded with its defense that kept the Lady Patriots at bay all night.  

"This was a great challenge for us," Suddeth said. "We knew it would be a tough test and that's why we put them on the schedule."