Staff Photo: John Bohn North Gwinnett's Jessica Eberhardt (15) kicks the ball while defended by Peachtree Ridge's Alanna Dineen (20) during the first half of Thursday's game.
SUWANEE -- North Gwinnett had a chance to lock up another region championship on Thursday.
The Bulldogs' girls soccer team led 2-0 at halftime. Then visiting Peachtree Ridge scored three second-half goals, including two from more than 45 yards away.
That pushed the game to overtime and eventually to penalty kicks, where the Lions held on to win 5-4 on PKs and the game 4-3.
"It was a big win, huge win," Peachtree Ridge coach Bill Holleman said. "They've beaten us the last couple of years. It was nice to finally beat them."
Region 7-AAAAA will go on a hiatus next week for spring break. When the action resumes on April 10, North, Peachtree Ridge, Mill Creek and Collins Hill will be fighting for playoff positioning. North's loss was its first in region play this season, putting the Bulldogs in a four-way tie with Peachtree Ridge, Mill Creek and Collins Hill.
"It's a tough pill," North Gwinnett coach Erik Crawford said.
North Gwinnett (8-5, 4-1) led 2-0 at halftime, but saw Peachtree Ridge (8-4, 4-1) score three second-half goals to force overtime. The Bulldogs missed their first PK and with Peachtree Ridge's 6-foot-2 freshman Cosette Morche in goal, that was all the help the Lions needed.
"She did a great job tonight," Holleman said.
Peachtree Ridge's Alanna Dineen, Shelby Jennings, Graham Green, Jordan Missel and Macey Raines made their penalty kicks to lock up the win.
"I told them we looked scared (in the first half)," Holleman said. "They answered in the second half and we started competing."
North had numerous scoring opportunities early in the first half, but couldn't convert.
Lauren Harriman finally ended the scoring drought with six minutes left in the half. The Georgia State signee took an assist from Brooke Bortles and scored her 13th goal of the season.
Taylor Burns scored in the 38th minute to give North a 2-0 lead at halftime. The junior had a breakaway and as the Peachtree Ridge goalkeeper came to the top of the 18, Burns shot a dribbler into the net.
"She just earned that goal," Crawford said. "She sacrificed for it."
Peachtree Ridge made the game interesting when Alanna Dineen scored in the 44th minute.
"Once we got the one, it gave them a little confidence," Holleman said.
North regained the a two-goal lead in the next minute. Mackenzie Loula took a free kick from 25 yards out and placed it perfectly in front of Burns. A nice touch by Burns and she had her second goal of the game.
"If it wasn't for her, we wouldn't have been in the game," Crawford said.
Jennings scored from 40 yards out on a free kick to put the Lions back in the game 3-2 in the 50th minute.
"I thought the whole game we dominated," Crawford said. "They didn't really take a shot except for free kicks."
The junior scored another goal on a free kick, hitting one from 45 yards out to tie the game 3-3 in the 57th minute.
"She has done that often this year," Holleman said. "She has a big leg."
That was the boost Peachtree Ridge needed to force overtime and eventually PKs.
"We really fight people," Holleman said. "We're not the most gifted, but we fight hard."