CUMMING -- For 77 minutes, Duluth was firmly in control of its first-round soccer game against South Forsyth on Tuesday.
After 10 years of not making a playoff appearance, the Wildcats looked as if they would advance to the second round.
Then, things fell apart as the War Eagles scored two goals in the last 2:26 to escape with a 2-1 win.
"It's definitely disappointing that it ended that way," said Duluth head coach Vince Hayes. "There were some funny bounces late in the game and South Forsyth took advantage."
Early on, Duluth (9-7) controlled the tempo, but was unable to get a clean shot on goal. South Forsyth, on the other hand, made the most of its early chances, challenging goalie Tiffany Sornpao on multiple direct shots.
Brie Haynes had a shot right in front on the goal, which Sornpao stopped, and Rachel Shah had a steal and shot minutes later, which was also stopped by the goalkeeper.
Duluth made some noise 10 minutes in, as Hannah Huizenga sent a corner kick just over the crossbar.
Throughout the rest of the first half, neither team was able to mount much offense, as each shot taken was soft and easily saved by both goalies.
The second half was a different story.
After a tip save by Sornpao on the defensive end, Duluth converted it into offense, getting a corner in the offensive zone.
After a short kick, Huizenga took aim at a shot as South Forsyth's Hannah Goody made a fingertip save. However the ball deflected behind Goody as Sarah Miller was there to clean it up and put it in the back of the net, giving Duluth a 1-0 lead.
"Sarah is normally a defender, but we told her early on that she could be a good forward," Hayes said. "She's been a decider in many of our games."
As South Forysth continued to throw everything it had at Duluth, the defense continually turned the War Eagles away.
With 13:16 to go in the game, Annie Kaminski bicycle-kicked the ball out of the box, forcing the War Eagles to set up the offense again. Five minutes later, Sornpao made two saves in the box, taking on two shots from the War Eagles.
South Forsyth (14-5) continually got chances as Sornpao misplayed a ball, giving the War Eagles a wide-open goal. However, Lexi Luther was there to make a head save, leaving the score at 1-0.
"Lexi and Sarah have played with no fear all year," Hayes said. "Coupled with Tiffany, they provided strong defense."
From there, the War Eagles finally made the most of their chances, getting a goal from Haynes off a deflection with 2:26 to go.
Then, on a funny bounce, Shah got on a breakaway and blasted the ball in the back of the net with 47 seconds to go, giving the War Eagles the win.
While the loss was disappointing, Hayes believes that Duluth won't have to wait another 10 years to return to the state playoffs.
"You hate for things to end that way," Hayes said. "We have a lot coming back and we're confident we can continue moving forward."