Parkview's Stephanie Gutierrez, from left, KiKi Nelson, Kim Spence and Alex Ober celebrate Spence's game-winning goal as Lassiter defender Marin Abousaud kneels behind Tuesday night.
LILBURN -- Kim Spence did exactly what she did last season in a second-round matchup with Lassiter, Maureen Buff and the defense did what they didn't in that matchup and the Parkview girls soccer team did what it usually does in the playoffs -- win.
Spence scored the game-winner in the 75th minute, not quite as thrilling as her goal with 17 seconds left vs. Lassiter a year ago, as second-ranked Parkview defeated the fourth-ranked Trojans 2-1 on Wednesday night in the Class AAAAA playoffs. The Auburn signee scored both goals to break the Panthers' record for goals in a season, upping her season total to 31.
The three-time defending champion Panthers, who host Union Grove in Saturday's quarterfinals, extended their unbeaten streak in the playoffs to 17 games, dating back to the 2006 season.
"It was kind of the same thing as last year (with Lassiter), it was really close and physical," said Spence, who also scored on a penalty kick after drawing a foul in the seventh minute. "We knew it was going to be a fight until the end."
While Spence scored the goals, the Parkview defense was outstanding against a Lassiter attack that puzzled the Panthers last season. The Trojans' Abby Lutzenkirchen scored three goals in that game, a 4-3 Lassiter loss, and Panther girls coach Judson Hamby didn't want that to happen again.
He assigned senior Maureen Buff the duty of marking Lutzenkirchen, and taking the talented sophomore out of the attack. She did just that, holding her in check and even winning the majority of air balls despite giving up a good five inches in height in the battle of midfielders.
"Maureen Buff played unbelievable against their best player," Hamby said. "With (Lutzenkirchen) kind of contained, it forced them to do silly things and play reckless balls into (Parkview goalie) Asha (Wright), which was easy.
"Never in my four years here have I assigned one specific task to one player, but I knew this player was that good. So I told Buff, it's your job to shut her down, and she did. Buff is the fittest kid I've seen in my four years at Parkview. She could probably play another half. She was huge for us tonight."
Parkview's back line -- Cherrelle Jarrett, Kansas Bayly, Elena Karakizis and Allison Litchfield -- also was solid as Lassiter (12-4) put just one shot on goal in 80 minutes. The Trojans scored on that one after a Panther defender slipped in the 48th minute, giving Caroline Hernandez a one-on-one with Wright that she converted.
That goal was a counterattack after Parkview's KiKi Nelson got free behind the defense and slipped a shot past Lassiter goalie Gretchen Bernard. But Nelson's shot hit the right post and slowly rolled down the goal line, teetering inches short of a goal.
It was the theme of the night for the Panthers as they outshot Lassiter 8-1 and held a 4-1 edge in corner kicks. Nelson had two other close chances that just sailed high, Bayly hit the crossbar and Buff forced a diving, finger-tip save by Bernard, but none netted goals.
Spence finally scored the go-ahead goal late after a scramble near the corner of the penalty box. Bernard came off her line to help in the fracas, but the ball slipped free and Spence beat a defender to it before sliding a shot into the open net.
"It was frustrating (to have so many near-misses)," Spence said. "A lot of games our offense is close like that, but we knew if we kept putting shots on goal and kept working it would come."