Allred shines in PKs as Hawks win region crown

SUWANEE -- Mill Creek girls head coach Brent Leitsch doesn't need someone to keep up with how many saves his keeper records during a match.

As a former keeper himself, he habitually keeps track of them in his head.

On Friday night, his keeper Rachel Allred gave him plenty to remember.

Squaring off against fourth-ranked Collins Hill with the Region 7-AAAAAA title on the line, Allred came up with two huge saves during penalty kicks to help give the Hawks a 2-1 win over the Eagles.

After ending regulation and overtime with a 1-1 tie, the two teams lined up for penalty kicks with third-ranked Mill Creek securing the match with a 3-0 advantage.

Lauren Tanner, Caroline Fleming and Alex Giles all converted their PKs for Mill Creek, while Allred stopped two of the first three efforts from Collins Hill to help secure the win and the region title.

"This was a great game between two great teams," Leitsch said. "Luckily we were on top of things with the penalty kicks. One of Rachel (Allred) strong suits is defending them and we were fortunate to have her back there."

Allred, who finished the night with 10 stops, moved to her left to thwart the first PK from Amanda Bruemmer. Her second save was to her right, this time knocking down a shot from Kaitlyn Del Savio.

Collins Hill had to hit its third kick to keep going, but Dena Cisic's shot bounced high off the bar, sending Mill Creek into a celebratory frenzy upon claiming the region title.

"Goal one for us was to get in (the state playoffs), which we accomplished last Tuesday," Leitsch said. "Goal two was the region title, which now sets us up in good position for goal three, which is to get a championship ring."

Collins Hill continually pushed the ball up the field, putting pressure on the Mill Creek defense, but the Hawks were able to thwart the majority of the attacks by keeping numbers behind the ball.

The Eagles ended up with advantages in several offensive categories, including a 7-5 margin on shots on goal and a decided 12-5 advantage on corner kicks.

Three of those corner kicks came in the first seven minutes of the match, but Mill Creek was able to thwart each one. That opened the door for the Hawks just over 10 minutes later when Tanner struck for her 31st goal of the season.

Tanner was able to steal the ball away from a Collins Hill defender deep in Collins Hill territory, weave her way between three defenders and scoot the ball past a diving Halla Jibreen for a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute.

Collins Hill continued to push the ball and finally found the equalizer with 17:22 with an unassisted goal from Cisic.

Cisic found herself alone just outside the box and was able to pivot and square up a lined shot just out of reach of Allred.

The Eagles were able to put together numerous looks in the rest of regulation and overtime, including two solid shots in the final 10 seconds from Bruemmer and Desiree Brown, but Allred came up with stops each time.

"What do you say to a group of girls that played as well as we did tongiht but still came up on the losing end?"

Collins Hill head coach Jeff Tinklepaugh said. "Sometimes soccer is cruel like that, but we can't talk it to death because we've got to come back and play Peachtree Ridge."

A win next Tuesday would give the Eagles second place in the region and a home game in the first round of the Class AAAAAA state playoffs the following week.

While Mill Creeks' girls needed a win for the region title, the boys had to have a win just to stay in contention for the fourth playoff spot.

Just like in the girls match, the boys also needed PKs to settle the affair, but Collins Hill proved to be too much, taking the match 4-3 with a 5-4 edge in PKs.

Paul Ille scored three goals in regulation to lead Collins Hill (12-5, 6-1) and provided the final kick during PKs for his fourth goal of the night.

Collins Hill led 3-0 off of Ille's hat trick when Mill Creek (10-5, 3-4) got on the board with 22 minutes left when Waldyr Pierre-Louis converted a penalty kick when the Eagles commited a hand ball in the box.

That 3-1 margin looked like it was going to stand when Mill Creek cut the score to 3-2 with 2:12 remaining and tied it 56 seconds later off a goal from Noah Thomas.

During the PKs, Collins Hill keeper Jackson Taylor knocked down the first attempt from Chris Scheutz, a play that proved to be pivotal as jake Creech, Pierre-Louis, Conner Buckley and Tyler Moody each converted for the Hawks.

Collins Hill was perfect on its kicks, getting goals from Jordan Brust, Freddy Maier, Eli Carrasco, Zach Lane and Ille.