Staff Photo: John Bohn Dacula's Lauren Vick (10) heads the ball during the first half of a game against Brookwood Friday.
SNELLVILLE -- Maybe it's the bright, neon orange goalkeeper jersey. Maybe it's her constant movements and jumping jacks before the shot.
Whatever the key is, Dacula goalkeeper Magaly Gutierrez has become a force when soccer games go to penalty kicks.
"I try to intimidate (the shooters) as much as I can," Gutierrez said. "I wait for them to step up to the ball and see which way they're going to go. I don't know. I just have that feeling that I know where it's going to go."
The junior did it again Friday night, saving two of Brookwood's first three PK attempts as the Falcons defeated the host Broncos 3-2 (3-1 on PKs) in a key Region 8-AAAAA match. She stopped the first PK, watched as a Brookwood shooter sent the second kick wide and then stuffed the third shot. Neither team attempted a fifth kick because the outcome was already decided with makes from the Falcons' Ruva Chimedza, Katie McAdams and Makayla Clack.
Gutierrez had been the deciding factor in two of Dacula's biggest wins earlier, stopping four total PKs in shootout victories over Grayson and seventh-ranked Mill Creek. She also saved a PK in regulation in the Falcons' only loss in their last 12 matches to region leader Parkview.
"I don't know what it is about her, she loves those PK situations," Dacula coach Jason Guzzardo said of Gutierrez, a Georgia Gwinnett College commitment.
The latest PK victory was a huge one.
Dacula (12-2-1, 5-1) not only secured its first-ever girls soccer win over traditional power Brookwood, it also locked up a home game for the upcoming state playoffs.
"It means a lot to beat Brookwood," Guzzardo said. "That mentality in the past at Dacula was when we played Brookwood or Parkview that we have no chance. But the kids believed."
Gutierrez wouldn't have been in the hero role if not for Clack, a high-scoring freshman who answered back quickly in the second half after Brookwood took a pair of one-goal leads.
The Broncos (7-6, 4-2) went up 1-0 in the 50th minute when Fiorella Gamarra beat a defender on the left side and placed a perfect cross that teammate Kim Fincher finished from point-blank range.
The lead lasted only 31 seconds, though.
Clack stole the ball from a Brookwood defender in the box and beat the goalkeeper one-on-one.
"She's a physical presence for sure," Guzzardo said.
Gamarra put the Broncos ahead in the 74th minute when she snuck between a trio of Dacula defenders and created a breakaway. She slipped a shot past Gutierrez, who had made a huge save on a breakaway five minutes earlier, for a 2-1 edge.
This time it took 1:21 for Clack to answer with her 22nd goal of the season. She pushed her way through two defenders and scored in another one-on-one situation with the goalie.
While Dacula got the win, the statistics were heavily in the hosts' favor.
Clack's two goals were Dacula's only shots on goal all night, while Brookwood put 10 on net. The Broncos also had a 10-0 advantage in corner kicks.
None of that mattered in the end, though. Gutierrez, who had eight saves in regulation, made two more saves that gave her team a historic win.
"It means a lot to beat Brookwood," Gutierrez said. "It's our first time ever beating them. As soon as the referee blew the whistle, I thought, 'I can't believe we just beat Brookwood.'"