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High school soccer: North Hall's defense comes up big in 1-0 state tournament win
North Hall's Ali Souther and Druid Hill's Rachel Hodes challenge for control of the ball during the first half of the Lady Trojans' playoff match Tuesday evening at The Brickyard. - photo by Scott Rogers | The Times
In North Hall’s 1-0 loss to Blessed Trinity in last year’s Class AAA state semifinals, goalkeeper Mary Mancin hesitated when it came to running out on a breakaway.

The result was the lone goal scored and her team’s season ending.

In Tuesday night’s second-round state playoff game against 10th-ranked Druid Hills, Mancin never second guessed herself, never hesitated and the result was a 1-0 win for the Lady Trojans (15-3).

Twice in the last minute, Druid Hills (12-6-1) had breakaways and both times Mancin ran out toward the oncoming forward to not only save a goal, but the season.

“It was a deja vu of when I didn’t do that and it came back to bite me,” Mancin said. “(Druid Hills) was going hard and I knew I needed to also. I didn’t want this to be my last game.”

With the win, North Hall moves onto the state quarterfinals where it will play host to Eagles Landing on Friday.

The Lady Trojans ended the regular season by shutting out seven of their final eight opponents, while winning by an average of 3.75 goals.

As if that wasn’t enough, they entered Tuesday night’s contest at The Brickyard fresh off a 6-0 rout of first-round opponent Eastside.

All that to say that North Hall hasn’t, in the last few games, faced much pressure from an opposing offense or defense: until Tuesday night.

From the get-go, Druid Hills’ forwards pressured the North Hall defense, and its’ midfield won close to every battle for possession.

“(Our defense) had to battle,” North Hall coach Nathan Wallace said. “We had to drop Allie (Wright) back to sweeper because we realized it would be a defensive game.”

Wright made the move from sweeper to forward this season and her experience paid off for a defense that was, at the very least, tested by Druid Hills.

It was Wright’s speed at forward, however, that gave her team its lone goal of the game.

In the fifth minute, Wright was the recipient of a near-perfect through ball from sophomore midfielder Tess Patton. Wright did the
rest, beating a defender and striking the ball into the right corner of the net past Druid Hills’ diving goalkeeper.

“Scoring quick is what we like to do because it puts us at ease,” Wallace said. “But we wanted another goal so we put Tess (Patton) up front in the second half to keep up the pressure.

“We knew that two goals would be all Mary (Mancin) would need.”

On Tuesday night, however, it was just one goal as Mancin had seven saves en route to her 10th shutout of the season.

“I was thinking the whole time, and saying to the defense, that we needed to stay composed and clear out hard,” Mancin said.
“They did an incredible job and it was really just a team win.”

Druid Hills’ speed on offense was thwarted by the likes of Allie Wright, Anna Kate Wright, Taylor Knight, Bradee Burrell and
Kimberly Mistarz who took their goalkeeper’s advice and honed in on clearing the ball with fervor and making sure that no girl went unmarked.

“I can’t say enough about their effort,” Wallace said. “They were huge tonight and pointing out one girl or one big performance wouldn’t be right.

“They should all be mentioned and should all take credit for this win.”
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