Harrison beats Norcross on PKs

KENNESAW - Harrison battled with Norcross to a scoreless tie through regulation and two overtimes Wednesday before winning 4-3 on penalty kicks in the first round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs at Hoya Stadium.

The win put Harrison (12-5) in the second round, where it will travel to Milton on Wednesday.

It was a young Harrison squad, comprised mainly of freshmen and sophomores, but the Hoyas held their own despite a strong effort from Norcross standout Lindsay Warthen as well as Blue Devil goalkeeper Brianna Meeks.

"It was an exciting game," Harrison coach Steve Riccard said. "The fans got their money's worth. Norcross is a good side. (Warthen) gave us a lot of problems and their goalkeeper (Meeks) played a solid game, but the girls played a great game."

Both Harrison and Norcross made the first two penalty kicks of the shootout, with Katie Head and Haley Pollock scoring for the Hoyas and Jenna Hanington and Julie Ellenberger scoring for the Blue Devils.

Norcross (11-6-1) got the edge when Meeks made a diving save of Erin Merkel's penalty kick and Jami Lupuloff connected on her penalty kick attempt to give the Blue Devils a 3-2 advantage.

Alyssa Mahan made her penalty kick for Harrison to tie the score, 3-3. After goalkeeper Alex Dunlap blocked Hanna Krek's attempt for Norcross, Cicely Taliaferro scored on her attempt to give Harrison a 4-3 edge.

The Hoyas clinched the win when Dunlap blocked Warthen's PK attempt.

Harrison stopped a Norcross scoring attempt early in the game when Dunlap deflected a shot by Warthen with 38:30 remaining in the first half.

The Hoyas had their first scoring attempt with 32:41 left in the first half when Lindsey Jackson took a pass from Emily Patton and banged a header over the goal.

The rest of the first half was an evenly fought battle, with both teams getting several shots on goal.

It was Harrison that controlled the tempo of the game in the second half as the Hoyas adopted a more aggressive attack on offense.

"We were going side to side so much in the first half, but we switched to a more direct strategy in the second half," Riccard said. "I have to give a lot of credit to the girls for being able to switch strategies on the fly in the second half."

While Harrison had several more shots on goal in the second half, the Hoyas were still not able to get the ball past Meeks and the game went to overtime.