Blackman-less Broncos upset in first round

Photo: Karl L. Moore<br> Brookwood's Chelsea Turner (5) takes a shoulder from Alpharetta's Elise Lind (18) during Tuesday's Class AAAAA state playoff game at Brookwood.

Photo: Karl L. Moore
Brookwood's Chelsea Turner (5) takes a shoulder from Alpharetta's Elise Lind (18) during Tuesday's Class AAAAA state playoff game at Brookwood.

SNELLVILLE -- Rebecca Parker admitted her players were a little confused early in their showdown with third-ranked Brookwood.

The unranked Alpharetta girls had a game plan stressing constant defensive attention on Brookwood striker Washida Blackman, but the talented senior didn't start Tuesday night. In fact, she never saw the field all night.

"We had a whole plan centered around (Blackman)," the Alpharetta coach said. "So we were a little unorganized early."

Blackman missed most of the school Tuesday with a sickness and ensuing doctor's appointment, and checked in near the end of the school day. Because of her late check-in, Brookwood administrators followed their policy (there is no Georgia High School Association rule permitting her from playing) that she couldn't participate in the game later that night.

Without the high-scoring forward, the Broncos couldn't find the goal in the Class AAAAA first round and suffered a surprising 1-0 loss to the visiting Raiders. The season-ending loss -- Brookwood's second straight first-round exit -- snapped a 13-game winning streak.

"Alpharetta's a good team and they came prepared," Brookwood girls coach Sarah Crawford said. "We didn't finish our chances and they did. We had a few players who couldn't play that made a difference. It changed the game."

A week earlier, Blackman had three goals in a win over Shiloh. She had the only two goals in the game before that, a streak-breaking victory over rival Parkview. The Mercer signee was the cog of an offense that scored 82 goals through 13 games.

The Region 8-AAAAA champion Broncos (14-4) still had their chances without her, though.

An early Megan Morrow header was saved by a defender. A first-half breakaway by Fiorella Gamarra went just wide.

But most of the hosts' best chances came in the second half, when Alpharetta goalkeeper Jill Maloney, a U.S. youth national team player, showed her skills. She made two phenomenal saves on shots by Brookwood's Jenny Allen and Rachael Schmidt.

"Their goalkeepers had five exceptional saves, they played very well," Crawford said.

Brookwood had a 5-3 edge in shots on goal and a 5-1 edge in corner kicks, but it didn't matter, thanks to an Alpharetta goal in the 57th minute. Elise Lind had a clear shot in the penalty box and put a shot near the post that deflected off Bronco goalkeeper Kristen Rivers' hands and into the side net.

The one-goal lead held, despite Brookwood's pushing everyone forward. With slightly more than five minutes left, Rivers made a tremendous one-on-one save when Alpharetta got a 3-on-1 break against her on a counterattack.

The Raiders advance to play the winner of today's Mill Creek-Lassiter game in the second round.