Staff Photo: John Bohn Collins Hill goal keeper Halla Jibreen (1) makes contact with John's Creek's Clara Conboy (22) during the second half of a Class AAAAAA first-round girls soccer game played on Wednesday. Jibreen earned a red card on the play and left the game.
SUWANEE --Amanda Bruemmer and her fellow Collins Hill defenders spent the bulk of the second half under pressure.
Down a player for nearly 27 minutes, the fourth-ranked Eagles held their lead with a pair of backup goalkeepers and defeated Johns Creek 2-1 Wednesday night in the opener of the Class AAAAAA girls soccer playoffs. The victory sends them into a matchup Tuesday at No. 3 Parkview, which beat Collins Hill 4-2 earlier in the season.
The Eagles (14-3-2) dominated Johns Creek for a 2-0 halftime lead, but a red card early in the second half turned the momentum.
"After the red card, we had to come together and play with some heart," Bruemmer said. "We had to do extra well and be extra organized in the back. It was definitely nerve-racking but we did it and pulled out the win."
After controlling play in the first half and early in the second, Collins Hill ran into trouble with the red card on starting goalkeeper Halla Jibreen, who will miss at least one match because of the ruling. A Johns Creek forward got loose for a breakaway that forced Jibreen to charge off her line to just outside the penalty box, where the two players collided. A penalty was called on Jibreen, who also got a red card for taking out a player on a goal-scoring chance.
Collins Hill called on backup goalkeeper Kamilah Talbi, who made two saves, including a nice one on the free kick after Jibreen's foul. But Johns Creek (11-7) did get one goal against Talbi --Haley Jackson's free kick from just outside the box in the 59th minute.
Courtney Coffee played the last four minutes-plus in net for Collins Hill, making one save. Eagle girls coach Jeff Tinklepaugh didn't know which of those keepers would start in Jibreen's place vs. Parkview.
"We'll see who shows the best this week (in practice), a little late-season competition," Tinklepaugh said.
Aside from the free-kick goal, Bruemmer, Kaitlyn Del Savio and the rest of the defense held Johns Creek out.
"You're just sitting there watching the clock and every time it goes on our half, we're just holding our breath and keeping our fingers crossed," Tinklepaugh said. "It was a whole lot closer than we would have wanted to have it."
It didn't look like it would be a close finish after the first half.
Collins Hill scored on a pair of similar headers, one off a cross from the right side and the other from the left, for a 2-0 lead.
The first tally came in the 16th minute when Kelsey Lawrence made a nice run down the left side and crossed to Jessica Dacey, who placed her 13th goal of the season into the net. Eleven minutes later, Desiree Bowen powered through two defenders on the right side and found Paige Hoover in front for the second goal. It was Hoover's 16th goal of the season.
"We possessed well. We moved the ball around well. We created chances," Tinklepaugh said of the first half. "I felt like if we could have played at the same level in the second half we could have gotten a couple more in. The second half, most of that was hanging on after the card."
The Collins Hill coach didn't take issue with the red card, agreeing that Jibreen's foul kept Johns Creek from a clear scoring chance on the breakaway. There's no doubt the 10 vs. 11 element changed the run of play for the Eagles, who went from being the aggressors to spending most of the time on the defensive end.
But in the end, they held on.
"(The card) suddenly took down our momentum because we were going so hard and then we had to settle it down," Bruemmer said. "We got a little panicked at first but then we settled down again and got the win."