Staff Photo: John Bohn Wesleyan's Abby Daws (7) takes control of the ball while defended by Providence's Katharine Slayton (9) in a girls soccer match played Friday at Wesleyan. Providence defeated Wesleyan 2-1.
NORCROSS -- Ever since reaching the state championship game in 2008, Providence's girls soccer team hasn't enjoyed as much success.
The Stars missed the playoffs last season, but it appears No. 5-ranked Providence is back to its winning ways.
The Lilburn private school remained undefeated on Friday, beating No. 4 Wesleyan 2-1 after edging them 4-2 in penalty kicks.
The win snapped a six-game losing streak against Wesleyan, beating the Wolves for the first time since 2008.
"I've been waiting for this for a long time," Providence senior Lauren Hoyt said. "It's always a good game with them."
Providence went 7-11 last season, its first year without longtime coach Johnny Williamson, who died in the winter of 2010 from cancer.
"This is for the most part, the same team as last year, but it's a totally different team," second-year Providence coach Andy Randrup said.
Providence, which won state titles in 1999 and 2007 and was runner-up 2005 and 2008 under Williamson, is off to its best start in years. The Stars are 6-0, which includes wins over larger schools Berkmar, Central Gwinnett, South Gwinnett and Duluth.
"They've improved a ton since last year," Wesleyan coach Lacy Gilbert said. "They've really come together."
Providence was able to stay unbeaten thanks to the heroics of its goalie Jessie Kowalewicz and Kat Slayton during penalty kicks.
"We practiced all week on penalty kicks," Randrup said. "Not only for our shooters, but also our goalie. With area play coming up, we knew games would start being tight."
Kowalewicz saved Wesleyan's first PK attempt after Brooke Kelly and Anna Bougas made their PKs to give the Stars a 2-0 lead.
"When she got that save, it was a big relief," Hoyt said.
Wesleyan (3-3-1 overall, 2-2 area) was able to tie on PKs by Savannah Newman and Meagan Hall.
Providence's Hoyt added the third PK and after Wesleyan's kick went over the crossbar, that set up Slayton.
The sophomore drilled the game-winner and innocently turned around as her teammates mobbed her to celebrate.
"I was just thinking don't miss it and not to get too nervous," Slayton said.
"We had faith in you," Hoyt interjected.
Kowalewicz, who is a standout softball player for the Stars, didn't stick around to celebrate. The junior had to leave immediately to go play in a tournament.
"She's a tremendous athlete," Randrup said.
Providence took a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute off a breakaway goal from Kelly. The Gardner-Webb signee has flourished this season after moving to the outside and freshman Bougas taking over the center.
"She has really stepped up a lot," Randrup said.
Wesleyan tied the game in the 34th minute on a goal by Newman. She was set up by Abby Daws' free kick from 35 yards out.
"We stayed in it after they scored first. I was proud of the girls for that," Gilbert said.
Wesleyan had several attempts to take the lead in the second half. Christina Moraitis' shot that hit the crossbar was the final of several missed scoring opportunities in the 60th minute. Diane Torres also hit the crossbar in the 77th minute.
"I wish we would have finished before overtime," Gilbert said. "We had a ton of chances, but that's how soccer goes sometimes."
The shootout loss for Wesleyan was its first to Providence for its seniors, but the Wolves will get another shot on April 10 when they meet again.
"I though we played a great game. It was hard fought on both sides," Gilbert said. "I'm ready to play them again."
Wesleyan boys 2, Providence 1
No. 7 ranked Wesleyan scored two goals in a six-minute span in the second half to take down No. 1 Providence 2-1 on Friday.
"They are down at least three starters, so they are not at full strength," Wesleyan coach Billy Coxhead said. "It's encouraging, though, to be able to compete them. But they will be a different team when we see them again."
The Wolves' Drew Sutton scored in the 43rd minute on an assist from Cort Coxhead to make it 1-0.
Eric Sundermann made it 2-0 on a breakaway goal in the 49th minute.
"That really turned the momentum," Coxhead said.
Providence's Josh Platillero had a breakaway toward the goal and was tripped inside the box to force a penalty kick. Platillero put the ball in the right corner of the goal in the 70th minute to make it a 2-1 game.
The win improved Wesleyan to 4-2-1, while Providence snapped a three-game winning streak and is now 3-3.