FLOWERY BRANCH — The Flowery Branch girls soccer team made a single minute go the distance against Loganville on Friday.
Corrie Thomas and Julia Sienkiewicz each scored within 45 seconds of each other in the 75th minute as the Lady Falcons rallied for a 2-1 win over the Region 8-AAAAA foe Lady Red Devils.
Flowery Branch (10-3, 5-1) saw plenty of looks at the net throughout the contest, but its constant offensive build-up didn’t burst until the game’s crucial closing minutes, which secured the Lady Falcons’ fourth consecutive win.
“I knew they had definitely had been in that situation before, so I knew what to expect,” Flowery Branch coach Katie Scali said. “We made some changes, moved some people around and tried to find a spark. They handled the changes really well.”
With the win, Flowery Branch is one of three Region 8-AAAAA teams with one loss in region play. The Lady Falcons’ one loss came against Heritage, which remains atop the standings with an unscathed region record.
Flowery Branch has now defeated the other two one-loss teams, Loganville (8-2, 4-1) and Gainesville, giving it control of its own destiny for home-field advantage for the state playoffs.
“We’ve already played Gainesville, Heritage and Loganville, and Gainesville, Heritage and Loganville have to play each other,” Scali said. “We definitely solidified as high as No. 2, as far as controlling our own destiny.”
Sienkiewicz’s game-winning goal came by surprise of the junior forward, who didn’t initially know the ball had rolled into the net.
Playing in front of the crease, she deflected an incoming cross just out of the reach of Loganville’s goalkeeper and the ball trickled slowly across the goal line for the Flowery Branch lead with 4:02 left to play.
“It was really weird — I saw the ball on the cross and it kind of went off the side of my foot,” Sienkiewicz said. “I think it also bounced of the defender and spun in.”
The Lady Falcons were still on their first possession after Thomas’ game-tying goal less than a minute prior to Sienkiewicz’s winner. Jacy Ramey fed a pass into the box, which Thomas kept under control for a light shot that bounced into the net.
The goal made up for a close call by Thomas 20 minutes earlier in the game, when she crashed into the Loganville goalkeeper while heading a loose rebound.
Both players ended up in the net along with the ball, but the goal was waived off by game officials.
“It’s so hard to tell — I always think kids are closer to stuff than they are,” Scali said. “To me, it looked like the keeper was in the goal with the ball. But the referees have the bigger angle, and we have to give them the benefit of the doubt.”
Flowery Branch outshot Loganville 7-1 in the second half, an improvement from the 7-4 advantage the Lady Red Devils held in the first.
Tori Pulliam scored Loganville’s lone goal in the 35th minute on a long-range shot from outside the box that sailed over the hands of the Lady Falcons goalkeeper Elizabeth Bachmann.
The Lady Red Devils found the back of the net again on a breakaway attempt from Caitlin Ray in the 47th minute, but the goal was called back by an offsides call.
Flowery Branch held Loganville to a single shot the rest of the game.
“Even when we were against the strong wind in the first half, I felt like we had some good chances,” Scali said.
“Some odd bounces tested my keeper early, and I think she was little bit shaken.
“They are used to coming back, so we don’t put ourselves in a hole that we can’t dig out. We can always dig out.”
Flowery Branch takes a break from region play when it hosts Collins Hill at 2 p.m. today.
LOGANVILLE BOYS 1, FLOWERY BRANCH 0, PKs: The Red Devils outscored the Falcons 7-6 in penalty kicks to take Friday’s region contest.
Bradley Cosby scored the go-ahead penalty kick for Loganville, and Red Devils goalkeeper Andy Brock stopped Alejandro Montoya’s shot on the ensuing attempt to secure the win.
Flowery Branch (3-10, 2-4 Region 8-AAAAA) hosts Collins Hill at 4 p.m. today.