Staff Photo: John Bohn Parkview's Morgan Fleming (24) defends against Collins Hill's Desiree Bowen (3) during a second round Class AAAAAA state playoff girls soccer game played at Parkview on Tuesday.
LILBURN -- Skillful parries. Precision passing. Diving fingertip saves. Shutdown defense.
It all more than lived up to a top-5 matchup.
In the end, No. 3 Parkview prevailed again against No. 4 Collins Hill, getting two quick goals with less than 18 minutes left in regulation to seal a 3-1 on Tuesday in the second round of the Class AAAAAA playoffs. The Panthers backed up a 4-2 victory on March 5 when the two powerhouses last met.
"We knew that regular season means nothing and when you get into the playoffs, you've got to win and you've got to battle," Parkview head coach Judson Hamby said. "Collins Hill is an unbelievable team. They gave us fits tonight. They threw everything they could at us.
"If nothing else, this game is going to help us tremendously down the road. Whoever came out of this, we felt like was going to make a run at it."
Goals by freshmen Emma Carlson and Katie Hickman barely three minutes apart broke the game open.
Carlson, falling as she took the point-blank shot, scored with 17:41 to go and Hickman hammered home the dagger at 14:34.
"Those guys have been huge for us," Hamby said. "I kind of challenged them at halftime that it wasn't necessarily skill, but they just needed to be a little bit tougher. They were going after balls they didn't think they could get. The one Emma Carlson scored, just her effort to go get it is what scored it.
"They've been a catalyst for us all year."
Collins Hill (14-4-2) scored on a penalty kick pounded into the back of the net by junior Paige Hoover with 6:07 left in the game, but got no closer.
Tears and hugs were shared equally along the Eagles' sideline after the final horn. As well as a sense of disappointment stemming from not just the end of the season, but that a matchup this good had to happen so early in the playoffs.
"It's just very unfortunate," Collins Hill head coach Jeff Tinklepaugh said. "It's unfair to high school girls. They talk about it being about the players and the girls and then they do the matchups. It just seems unfair.
"(Parkview is) a very good squad. I said to friends, the winner of this game will make it to the state championship."
The Panthers (17-3) benefitted greatly from an early 1-0 lead off a failed attempt to clear the ball out by Collins Hill.
A loose ball caromed to the open left side and sophomore Emily Nixon pounced on the chance. Nixon booted it just under the crossbar in the sixth minute and the Panthers played with that narrow lead for the bulk of the game.
"That took us out of it a little bit, but then we found our feet," Tinklepaugh said. "Us not getting a goal until late allowed them to play a little looser. We were a little more tense. So that early goal is always huge."
Collins Hill had the better first half in terms of controlling the ball and setting up quality scoring opportunities. But the Eagles weren't penetrating the 18-yard line or getting that finishing touch.
It was very different from the season's previous meeting.
"We had no run of play (in that game)," Tinklepaugh said. "They owned the midfield. We were just weathering the storm the entire match.
"Tonight we were well prepared. The girls did an excellent job executing what we wanted to do tactically and we played a heck of a game. I couldn't ask for one bit more. They left it on the field."
Collins Hill came out strong again in the second half, generating a number of sterling chances.
Parkview goalie Mariah Garner made a diving, fingertip save on a drive from Hoover with 30 minutes still to play and preserved the 1-0 lead.
"The second half, I knew, was going to be back and forth," Hamby said. "For us, we challenged them at halftime just to be a little bit more tough. We felt like Collins Hill really battled us the first half, winning 50-50s and all that.
"I credit my kids with effort and desire to go get balls, to get decisions. At the end, my backline and my goalkeeper, they just played their butt off."
Hamby lauded, in particular, the play of freshman defender Sarah Nguyen, who had the yeoman's task of keeping Collins Hill's big threat up front, sophomore Desiree Bowen, in check.
"She did an unbelievable job on a very, very good player who we knew was going to give them a dynamic look," Hamby said. "She did an unbelievable job defending her and keeping her from getting breakaways. Made somebody else beat us, which is what we wanted."