Staff Photo: John Bohn Peachtree Ridge's Marrkus Reese (6) is defended by Mill Creek's Tyler Moody during the first half of a boy's soccer game played at Peachtree Ridge on Tuesday.
SUWANEE -- The Manrique brothers turned out to be twin terrors for Mill Creek's boys in their Region 7-AAAAAA soccer match with Peachtree Ridge.
Ernando Manrique tallied a first-half goal, while his twin brother and fellow freshman Diego Manrique tallied the eventual game-winning goal off a free kick in the 59th minute of the No. 6 state-ranked Hawks' 2-1 win over the eighth-ranked Lions on Tuesday night at Peachtree Ridge.
"It's huge," Mill Creek coach Sean Garnett said after the Hawks improved to 7-1 overall and 2-0 in region play. "You're 2-0 in the region beating a quality team in Peachtree Ridge, coming into their place and beating them, it's a huge win for our guys. I'm proud of our boys."
Just as huge was the goal Diego Manrique scored off a set piece with the game tied 1-1 midway through the second half.
The freshman sent a free kick from about 35 yards out on the far right wing toward the back post, intending it to be a pass for a charging teammate.
But the ball sped through a gap in the Peachtree Ridge (4-2, 0-1) defense and sneaked inside the back post to give Mill Creek a 2-1 lead.
"I was looking for a back-post run because we're pretty strong on the set pieces," Diego Manrique said. "We confused the keeper with the run, and I think he thought it was (going wide). I think our team was really pumped up after that goal."
The Hawks were even more pumped up after dodging a couple of bullets late in the game off identical corner kicks.
The first was headed just wide by Peachtree Ridge's Jordan Davis with just over 12 minutes to play, while the other bounced just out of the reach of several Lions in the penalty area with less than a minute to play, allowing the Hawks to hold on for the win.
"We didn't defend like we usually do," Peachtree Ridge coach Ryan Sutton said. "We'd given up two goals all year (coming into the game). So, to give up two goals in one game is very disappointing. We were up for it in the first half, but we kind of dropped off. ... (Mill Creek) just worked a little harder than we did (Tuesday) night."
Hard work helped Mill Creek jump out on top less than six minutes into the game.
Ernando Manrique found the loose ball in the middle of a mad scramble inside the goal box after several deflections and tapped the ball into the net.
Jake Creech and Tyler Moody were credited with assists on the goal that gave the Hawks a 1-0 lead just 5:49 after the opening kickoff.
But Peachtree Ridge got even when the ball took a strange bounce late on a back pass toward goalkeeper Conner Buckley late in the first half.
Buckley came off his line and outside the penalty area to try to play it away from a hard-charging Davis before he could get to it.
But he missed the ball when it took a hop, and it rolled all the way into the net for an own goal that pulled the Lions even at 1-1 with 16:14 left until hafltime.
But Buckley made up for that error just over a minute later by robbing Davis with a diving save on a blast from inside the penalty area to help send the game into intermission still even.
"I thought we were lucky to be tied at halftime," Garnett said. "I thought we were outplayed, (but) we made a few adjustments at halftime."Mill Creek girls 1,
Peachtree Ridge 0Lexi Froh scored just over two minutes into the game, and the No. 2 state-ranked Hawks (7-1, 2-0), and goalkeeper Rachel Allred, made the lead stand up for the Region 7-AAAAAA win.
Froh headed Lauren Navas' corner kick from the right wing just 2:10 after the opening kickoff to give Mill Creek the early lead.
"It was good to get the early goal," Hawks coach Brent Leitsch said. "We had that to rely on, but (Peachtree Ridge) defended very well, and it frustrated us."
Despite missing some key players to injury, including starting goalkeeper Cosette Morche, Peachtree Ridge (2-5, 0-1) kept fighting behind a strong defensive effort, including a solid game from Jordyn Missel, playing her first game in goal after moving from her normal forward position.
And the Lions increased the offensive pressure in the second half, getting several quality scoring opportunities, the two best of which came in the game's final 14 minutes.
First, Macey Raines headed a throw-in from Nicole Misener on net in the game's 56th minute, but Allred made the save.
About 13 minutes later, Rebecca Owens had the Lions' best chance by getting to a loose ball in the penalty area for a point blank chance.
But once again, Allred was equal to the task and smothered the ball before Owens could fully wind up to keep the Hawks in front.
"That's what she's there for," Leitsch said of Allred. "She's there to make the big saves when we need it, and she's done that all year. When we're not scoring as well as we should, she's keeping a clean (score) sheet."