Led by senior goalkeeper Melissa Drish, the Heritage girls took a 2-0 win over visiting AAAAA team Chapel Hill in a non-region match Saturday afternoon.
In what was a tuneup for the approaching playoffs, both teams struggled to score. It was the 12th shutout of the season for Heritage as it improved to 14-2-1 this season.
"It was kind of a tale of two halves," Heritage coach Chad Suddeth said. "I was proud of how well the girls came out and played the first half after playing last night but we may have gotten a little too focused on defense the second half."
It was a sparkling defensive play by Drish that turned the momentum Heritage's way early in the contest. After an inadvertent hand ball by the Lady Patriots, Chapel Hill was awarded a penalty kick and the low shot was blocked by Drish, who had to leap to her right to stop the ball.
"That was huge play," Suddeth said. "If they make that kick, the whole game could have swung their way. Chapel Hill is a quality team and we want to face tough competition to get ready for the strong teams we will see in the playoffs."
Also playing a strong game defensively for Heritage was sophomore defender Arielle Gunderson. She and Shealy Kulp frustrated the front line efforts of Chapel Hill forwards Kelsey Barr and Ambrey Earl, who both had numerous shots at the goal during a second half primarily played near the Heritage goal.
In the first half, the Lady Patriots got on the board with a long range goal from Kulp just after the crucial save by Drish on the Chapel Hill penalty kick. The winning goal came after just seven minutes elapsed in the game.
Heritage scored again when senior Brittany Gray took an assist from junior forward Michelle Borg and found the net from close range. The second goal came with 26:58 remaining in the first half.
The remainder of the first half and most of the second half proved to be all defense by both teams. The Lady Panthers of Chapel Hill, who previously had lost only three games this season, pushed the ball down towards the Heritage goal consistently but could not find the net.
At the same time, Heritage struggled to get shots at Chapel Hill's goal, especially in the second half. The first shot attempt for Heritage in the second half came off the foot of senior Nadia Bryan with just under 18 minutes left to play.
Heritage's best chance to score in the second half came when sophomore Kelly Nangle, moved up the front line by Suddeth to create some offense, had a sharp shot blocked by Chapel Hill goalkeeper Mariela Serrano.
The Lady Patriots continue their preparations for the playoffs with a trip to play Union Grove on Tuesday.