SNELLVILLE — Driving down the gut, battling a defender all the way, Brookwood’s Jenny Allen made a slick touch pass to herself and carved out a bit of free space.
The senior burst into the box and punched the ball into the top shelf of the net barely two minutes into the second half. Allen threw her arm in the air, celebrating and looking just a little relieved after a myriad of missed chances.
Allen’s goal broke a scoreless tie and helped the No. 3 ranked Broncos to a 2-1 victory over Chattahoochee in the first round of the Class AAAAAA girls soccer playoffs.
“It was nice to get that one goal,” said Allen, the team’s top scorer who is headed to Armstrong Atlantic in the fall. “Because I knew once we got one goal we’d be OK. I was hoping maybe the floodgates would open a little bit. They didn’t, we only got one more, but a win is a win.”
Brookwood (17-2) scored what ended up as the game winner with 15:35 left in regulation by converting on a corner kick from Michelle Allen. The ball was lofted into heavy traffic in front and Francessca Ellis pushed a bouncing shot past the reaching keeper.
The Cougars (6-8) scored on a penalty kick in the final minute, but it was not enough to unseat the Broncos.
“It’s good to get it out of the way,” Allen said. “The first round can always be the toughest.”
Allen remembers well what happened her freshman year when top-seeded Brookwood was bounced in the first round.
Some of the inevitable nerves showed in the first half with half a dozen rushes called offsides and a number of good scoring chances pushed wide or off the posts.
“I don’t think we expected them to come out as fired up as they were,” head coach Jeff Becker said. “I have to tell the girls, every single game you’ve got to look at it like the state championship. Every team is going to come after you.”
There was a stern discussion during halftime.
“Coach Becker knew exactly what they were going to do,” Allen said. “He had a scouting report and knew they were going to play a high line. He had what we were supposed to do exactly against them. We didn’t necessarily do that the first half and he wasn’t too happy.
“He told us to make some diagonal runs. We weren’t doing that and we were getting called offsides. I think in the second half we tried to do that a little bit more and we were able to get one goal off a through ball and another off a corner.”
It’s a good lesson to learn early — especially when it still ends up as a win.
“At halftime, I told the girls, especially the seniors, ‘You guys have been the backbone of this program for the last three years and you don’t want to go out like this,’” Becker said.
“So I’m very proud of them. They did what they had to scrap this win out. Chattahoochee really stuck to their guns and we’ve got a lot of work before the next round.”