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Patriots fall in penalty kicks

Heritage had one of its best seasons of boys' soccer in recent memory.

So it's only fitting that if it was going to end short of a title, it would be an instant classic.

The Patriots (12-4-3) fell to South Forsyth 1-0 on penalty kicks (6-5) after 90 minutes of intense soccer.

"I'm just proud of my boys," Heritage coach Brandon Stewart said. "They hung in there; they worked their tails off for one another. It just didn't fall their way tonight."

Heritage controlled the ball early on getting five shots on goal compared to the War Eagles' three in the first half.

However in the final portions of the first half Heritage found itself with two yellow cards and South Forsyth (11-6-2), the fourth seed in Region 7-AAAA.

Mauricio Reyes picked up the first one with 6:37 to go until halftime, followed by another on Chris Raines.
The War Eagles picked up a yellow of their own with 1:46 to play until halftime before both teams regrouped in the second half.

The shots were slightly more even in the second half, 4-3, but Heritage had clearer chances.

None would find the back of the net, however, including two quality strikes from the left side by sophomore Austin Kulp. Reyes had a one-one one opportunity early in the second half but Bjorn Kammhol, South Forsyth's keeper came up with a strong save to keep the scoreboard blank.

"I thought the second half we totally bossed the game around, countering and even developing the final third," Stewart said. "But we just didn't get a goal. Their keeper came up big, he probably had four or five big saves. He just kept them in the game."

It would remain that way past regulation and into two five-minute overtime periods.

Following the additional time, both teams lined up for a penalty shootout that would match the intensity of the 11-on-11 action.

Heritage was the first team to shoot as Harrison Kulp's shot was blocked by Kammholze. The sophomore would come up with three penalty blocks, proving the difference.

Heritage's keeper wasn't a slouch in between the pipes himself, as Marcos Mendez came up with two big saves in the first five penalty shots for South Forsyth. Mendez, standing at just 5-foot-5, also came up with some spectacular stops throughout play.

"He's 5-5, 5-6 at the most and he's making saves," Stewart said. "That dude can't touch the cross bar with his hands up.

"All I asked him was to save just one, we couldn't convert."

However, in penalty kicks, the War Eagles found a way to put one more shot past him then the Patriots' shooters could against Kammholz. Heritage's Ramon Rodriguez missed the final Patriots' shot before South Forsyth senior Andre Williams put the match away.

Heritage finished Region 8-AAAA play a perfect 10-0 and before Tuesday's loss, won 13 straight.

"I thought we could have made a real run of it this year," Stewart said. "I thought we could have played with anybody in the state until those penalty kicks."