Greenbrier's girls soccer team reached best-ever status against Alexander on Tuesday. The white and green earned a 2-1 win in the second round of the Georgia High School Association Class AAAA state soccer tournament.
The victory, the team's 14th, marks the most wins for any girls soccer team in Greenbrier High School history. The Wolfpack (14-4-1) win also sends them to the state quarterfinal round Saturday afternoon against St. Pius. It matches the deepest Greenbrier, who starts eight sophomores, has advanced in the state playoffs.
Then there was senior captain Nicki Gray, who scored both goals to tie Brooks Daniel for the most goals in Greenbrier girls soccer history. Yet Gray had other goals in mind after the game.
"We belong in the state finals," Gray said. "This is the most talented team we've had at Greenbrier. We're all club players. I know we have all the ability to go that far."
Gray's second score, the 62nd of her career, came off a rebound she volleyed into the right-side corner of the net 8:15 into the second half. Her first goal came via a penalty kick 19 minutes into the first half. The call preceding the score didn't please the Alexander bench.
"I don't want to take anything from Greenbrier because they were the much better team," Alexander coach Shawn Bissell said. "But that penalty kick was wrong. Their girl tripped over the ball. My player was a yard behind. We're too slow to keep up with Greenbrier's players. Their girl tripped over the ball and my player fell over her. The referee was too far behind to see if their shoulders were even. That's my view. The official didn't see it. That's the bad break for us."
Bissell gave the lead official that opinion after the game.
"I told him his calling should never have affected the game in that manner," Bissell said. "In my opinion, we scored one legitimate goal and they had one legit goal. It's frustrating because my players work so hard and see their shot to beat a much better team taken away from them."
Greenbrier coach Alex Heider saw the calls and non-calls as part of the playoff experience. He chose to center his comments on the fact his squad dominated (24 shots on goal) every facet of play except the score.
"Statistically on the scoreboard Alexander was in this game," Heider said. "Statistically on the field they weren't even on the pitch with us. But that's all it takes. We kept them in it by not being able to finish our attacks."
Alexander had two shots on goal the entire game. The Cougars' Beth Coughlin injected the game with drama with her score with less than seven minutes to play. But it was all a faster, more skilled Wolfpack team would allow.
"There's nobody in this state we can't play with," Heider said. "People are going to see this score and read we're an easy mark. Our next opponent might come in here feeling good about their shot from that. We hope they come to play Saturday feeling that way. We'll make sure they get a game."
Reach Jeff Sentell at (706) 823-3425 or firstname.lastname@example.org.