SUWANEE -- Already starting their match much later than usual, the North Gwinnett girls waited deep into Thursday night to score the game-winner.
As the Region 7-AAAAA soccer showdown crept into the 71st minute and just past the 10 p.m. mark, Abbi Edwards' goal off a corner kick gave the ninth-ranked Bulldogs a critical 2-1 win over rival Peachtree Ridge.
The victory sent North (10-3, 3-1) into spring break feeling a little better, particularly after rebounding from last week's loss to Collins Hill. It was a late night for the Bulldogs--- extended by a boys game that went to penalty kicks and a teacher appreciation ceremony between games that pushed the girls kickoff to 8:40 p.m. -- that ended with them waiting for their school bus at 10:30 p.m.
The players were chilly, but smiling after Edwards' goal saved the day.
"I don't even know (what happened)," Edwards said. "I think I tapped it with the outside of my foot. I saw it roll across the line and I said, 'It went across the line, it went across the line.'"
The defending state champions were locked 1-1 until they scored off their sixth corner kick of the game, sent into the box by Taylor Burns. A Peachtree Ridge defender cleared it back out, but it returned directly to Burns, who sent a dangerous ball to the near post.
That's where a waiting Edwards got just enough on a shot across the goal line. Another Lion defender cleared it a split-second too late as the damage was done.
North jumped up 1-0 in the seventh minute when Caroline Gualdoni scored off a quick throw-in, but the lead lasted only 10 minutes. Peachtree Ridge (7-6, 3-2) got the equalizer off its only corner of the game when Emily Edmond fed Phoebe Palmer for the goal.
Edmond hit the post just before halftime, but it was the last time the Lions seriously threatened the rest of the match. Peachtree Ridge put just those two shots on goal, while North put 12 on frame.
Peachtree Ridge goalie Leigh Warfield saved 10 of those, including a point-blank blast by Lauren Harriman in the 53rd minute.
"We had plenty of opportunities," North girls coach Mark Karen said. "We finally got a late, sloppy goal there at the end but that was a tribute to our hustle all night."