Photo: Craig Cappy Brookwood defender Marina Juric (16) tries to push the ball away from Grayson's Josie Ouellete (6) during Friday's game.
LOGANVILLE -- For weeks, Brookwood's girls soccer team has been putting in extra work on penalty kicks during each of its practice sessions, and that work paid off in an important Region 8-AAAAAA game against Grayson.
The No. 8 state-ranked Broncos scored on all four of their attempts during the penalty kick shootout following a tie game in regulation and overtime.
Goalkeeper Kristen Rivers made the one save that counted, combined with a misfire by the fourth-ranked Rams, to allow Brookwood to take the shootout 4-2 and the game 2-1 Friday at Grayson Community Stadium.
"The girls knew we needed to keep our unbeaten record in region," Brookwood coach Jeff Becker said after the Broncos improved to 11-3 overall and 5-0 in region play. "We lost to (Grayson) last year, so we knew we had something to prove. We knew it could come down to PKs, so we've been practicing PKs every day after practice. All the girls who took (shots) and scored have been staying after practice and working on PKs over and over again. That's what it came down to. They just stayed mentally tough."
Both teams had to stay mentally tough at different times throughout regulation and overtime.
First, it was Grayson's (10-2, 4-2) after Brookwood drew first blood on an unusual play less than five minutes into the match.
Jenny Allen recovered a ball that Rams defenders thought had rolled over the endline and fired a shot that goalkeeper Cadye Picklesimer made the initial save on.
But Fiorella Gamarra got to the rebound and kicked it home to give the Broncos a 1-0 lead just 4:32 after the opening kickoff.
"(The players) toughened up," Grayson coach Terry Klinect said of his team's reaction to the goal. "They showed some fortitude and stuck it out there and got some great opportunities in the second half and overtime."
And that determination paid off midway though the second half, when Ella Stevens and Bobbi Ayres team up for some nifty footwork deep in Brookwood territory.
Stevens made a move to get around two Bronco defenders before being dispossessed of the ball by a third.
But the ball bounced to Ayres, who made another nifty move to get a step on another defender before firing the ball in the lower right corner of the net to pull Grayson even at 1-1 with 24:14 left and give the Rams momentum they held onto much of the remainder of regulation.
"After (Grayson) scored, we seemed to deflate a little bit," Becker said. "Obviously, Grayson's very fit, and they seemed to pick it up and play with more heart after the goal. Our girls struggled a little bit to come back, but I was so proud of them for staying mentally strong."
That mental strength helped the Broncos hang in and remain tied through the remainder of regulation and both five-minute extra frames.
After Briel Power and Jenny Allen matched goals from Grayson's Brittney Bennett and Tessa Craft in the first two rounds of the shootout, Brookwood got the first break when Alexa Webb's shot sailed over the crossbar to start round three.
Michelle Allen answered with a goal before Rivers took advantage at the top of round four by staying on her line and smothering Allison Pickett's attempt to open the door wide open for the Broncos.
"I knew if we could keep it equal, we could secure the game," Rivers said. "The big thing is, I knew my girls were going to make (their attempts in the shootout). Every time they make their goal like I know they can, it gives me confidence to make that next save."
But Kim Fincher made sure another save from Rivers would not be necessary by burying her attempt in the fifth round to give the Broncos an insurmountable lead in the shootout, and the victory in the game.
It was a tough defeat for the Rams, whose only two losses have come in region play -- Friday's PK setback and a 1-0 loss to No. 3 Parkview on March 15.
"They (Brookwood) are a very good team," Klinect said. "But I think we showed we're a very good team, too. It was a hard-fought battle. I knew coming in it was going to be a dogfight. We played them. We played Parkview. The three of us in this reason, it's going to be tough.
"It's like a told the girls, 'You go 90 minutes of soccer and you get to penalty kicks, it's kind of a crap shoot at that point. ... It's just a tough loss. (Brookwood) just came through."
Brookwood boys 6, Grayson 1
Bryson Dorsey had a hat trick and Mitch Hotop added two more goals as the seventh-ranked Broncos (9-2-1, 4-1) rolled to the Region 8-AAAAAA win.
A goal by each in the game's first 15 minutes gave Brookwood a 2-0 lead, only to see Grayson rally behind Mitchell Parker's goal with 11:51 left in the first half, sending the Rams (4-8, 1-5) into intermission down just 2-1.
But Hotop scored another just 31 seconds after the half began, while Dorsey added two more in a 1:37 span shortly thereafter, as the Broncos regained control.
"I told my guys (at halftime), '(Things like the late Grayson goal are) going to happen in a game sometimes. You've got to deal with adversity,'" Brookwood coach Daniel Klinect said. "We're a veteran team, ... and we showed it (in the second half). At times, things don't go well, but (the players) can flip that switch."
Jordan Locke then added a goal with 20 seconds left to close out the scoring for Brookwood.