HOSCHTON — In a matchup between two unfamiliar teams in the first game of the year, both the Flowery Branch and Mill Creek girls learned a lot about themselves Monday in Hoschton.
While Mill Creek was able to start the year with a 1-0 win over the Lady Falcons, Flowery Branch learned that it has the talent to compete with a Class AAAAA school.
“It’s never good to lose, but they are a tough team and a physical team,” Flowery Branch coach Katie Scali said. “Most of the teams we’ll be playing out of region will be tough and physical. That’s one of the reasons why we scheduled them.”
Mill Creek (1-0) imposed its physicality early, knocking the tenth-ranked Lady Falcons (0-1) off the ball and maintaining possession in its offensive zone for the majority of the first half.
Lady Hawks sophomore forward Torie Scalera was at the forefront of all the Lady Hawks’ attacks, including a double step-over move that left two defenders in her wake. Her shot on goal was stopped by Flowery Branch goalie Lauren Dunn, but Scalera would be heard from again.
With 5:46 left in the first half, Jenny Margert sent a ball from 40-yards out right to Scalera, who was in front of the goal. With only the keeper to beat, Scalera fired a shot into the right side of the goal for the game’s only score.
“Her speed makes her dangerous,” Mill Creek coach Brent Leitsch said. “If she starts finishing her shots, she’s going to be an All-County type of player.”
Scalera, who received a yellow card in the first half due to her physical play, wasn’t alone in the inability to finish, as the Lady Hawks seven shots on goal, with six of them saved by the freshman goalkeeper from Flowery Branch.
“It was a good game for her,” Scali said. “She’s coming along quickly and she’s already much better than she was during our scrimmage on Friday.
“She’s got the guts for it and the instincts for it,” Scali added. “We’re excited about having four years with her.”
A glimpse into her future came with 25:40 left in the game, when Dunn slid in front of Scalera to grab the ball and stop a would-be goal.
Leitsch was disappointed in all the missed opportunities.
“I’m happy with the win, but we definitely didn’t finish all the opportunities,” he said.
Several of those opportunities, including an early goal by Scalera, were waved off because the Lady Hawks were offsides. Mill Creek was offsides seven times in the game, and it wasn’t because of the Lady Falcons’ defense.
“We do not play an offside trap,” Scali said. “That girl (Scalera) was just offsides a lot.”
Flowery Branch’s best scoring opportunity came late in the second half when it received a free kick from 18 yards out with 8:58 left to play.
The shot by Lindsay Porter went right into the wall in front of her to end the scoring threat. Porter finished the game with all three of Flowery Branch’s shot attempts.
“With our tough schedule we’ve talked to the girls about not getting discouraged,” Scali said. “Hopefully this tough schedule will pay off in the long run.”
Flowery Branch visits Stephens County at 6 p.m. Friday.
Flowery Branch boys 1, Mill Creek 0 (SO)
Prior to the start of the nonregion game between Mill Creek and Flowery Branch, both head coaches decided that the game would be played until a winner was decided. That decision paid off for the Falcons.
After a scoreless regulation and two five-minute overtime periods, the game came down to penalty kicks and fifth-ranked Flowery Branch (1-0) went a perfect 5-for-5 to escape Hoschton with its first win of the year.
Philip Abrahamsen scored the game-winner with a low shot into the right side of the goal. It was only fitting that Abrahamsen, who led Flowery Branch with four shots on goal, gave the Falcons the win, as the junior forward nearly scored a game-winner in the first overtime when his shot bounced off the crossbar.
Brannon Lloyd started the perfect shootout with a goal to the right, which was followed by Mill Creek’s (0-1) Daniel Sorto’s goal.
After Harrison Gunby gave the Falcons a 2-1 lead, Mill Creek’s shot went high and the Falcons were in a prime position to win the game.
Edgar Medrano and Memo Rodriguez both made their shots that set up Abrahamsen’s game-winner.
Mason York and Cameron Parsons also scored shootout goals for the Hawks.
Flowery Branch visits Stephens County at 7:30 p.m. Friday.