Peek's last-second goal propels Mill Creek girls to thrilling win

HOSCHTON -- The Mill Creek girls had a plan and stuck to it.

Put the ball in the hands of sophomore Maddie Peek and run the clock down to its last ticks.

Peek finally found an opening and buried the game-winning goal with 8.4 seconds left to beat Roswell 15-14 in a back-and-forth Class AAAAAA lacrosse playoff opener Wednesday.

"She has the best stick on the team," Mill Creek head coach Brian Williamson said. "We decided to give it to her and we're going to take our one shot on goal and see if we can win. And you know what? She came through."

The girls pulled off the nailbiter in the first game of a doubleheader with the Hornets. The boys, plagued by turnovers, couldn't make a similar comeback.

They also tried to get the last shot, this to tie it, as time ran out and failed to generate a good scoring chance in a 7-6 loss to Roswell.

The girls, though, came back from a four-goal deficit in the second half to beat the Hornets for the second time this season. The first time was in overtime. This one was just as thrilling.

Roswell tied it 14-14 with 2:09 left on the clock, the eighth deadlock of the game, and Mill Creek used a timeout to talk about the plan.

"A tie game, it's kind of hard to say what to do, but I didn't want to lose in regulation," Williamson said. "I didn't want them to take one shot and beat us. I told them to wait until 20 seconds and get the ball to Maddie Peek."

Maddie Beck killed a big chunk of the time left, holding the ball behind the net. She handed off to Peek who was circling and had two avenues cut off before finding a gap.

"I was going to go right, but my teammate's defender slid on that side," Peek said. "So I had to go left. Then three (Hornets) slid on the left side so I had to go all the way back around."

Peek laughed when she described it, but it wasn't easy being patient.

"It's really hard standing there, just waiting for that clock to count down," Peek said. "It felt like forever."

But it worked out.

"Maybe next time we get burned, but she came through and did an incredible job," Williamson said.

The sixth-ranked Hawks (18-1) had a 7-5 lead when Rachel Gann and Tori Windom scored goals 20 seconds apart more than halfway through the first half.

Then Roswell, the state runner-up for the last two years, rattled off six straight goals on either side of halftime to stake itself to a 11-7 lead.

Mill Creek mounted a rally on the back of winning draws, primarily by Beck.

"That was huge for us," Williamson said. "That made all the difference because we were starting to lose the life at 11-7. But we've done a good job all year of fighting. We've been down in a lot of games and come back to win. We proved it again tonight."

Windom, Emily Hallberg and Abigail Fitler scored to cut the Hornets' lead to 11-10 with 14:47 left in the game.

Roswell was up 13-11 when Windom buried a penalty shot. Then Peek went to work.

She got a feed from Beck behind the net and smashed home a point-blank shot to tie it at 10:07.

Nearly five minutes elapsed before Peek put the Hawks ahead for the first time since late in the first half.

Peek lost the ball on contact, but scooped it up and flung a bounce pass under the goalie for a 14-13 lead.

"You can't really think about (being down)," Peek said. "Each goal is like a fresh game, 0-0, and it's your turn to win."

Mill Creek's boys led 2-0 and 4-1 on goals by Nick Kozlowski, but gave up five unanswered. The Hawks (15-4) dug out of the 6-4 deficit to tie it with 1:25 left in the third quarter. Kozlowski capped the hat trick, bursting to the front and hammering the ball into the back of the net.

Roswell (11-6) regained its lead with 6:22 to go in regulation and Mill Creek kept throwing away chances to get it back. Kozlowski took one last shot, but it flew wide as the Hawks' season came to an end.