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Lady Saints Are State Bound After 2-0 WIN Over Ensworth!
 
In a rematch of last year's State Quarterfinals game at Briarcrest, the Lady Saints came out firing on all cylinders and delivered a knockout blow early cruising to a 2-0 victory over Ensworth at Michael Bell Field. The game marked the last home game for Briarcrest's six senior Lady Saints- Megan Henry, Chase Magrum, Alex Parrish, Lauren Podraza, Katie Walker and Baylee Wilkerson. 
 
Ensworth had the first shot of the game in the the first minute, but the night belonged to the Lady Saints as the offense kept the pressure on the Lady Tigers defense throughout the game. Five minutes in, junior Allison Samisch blasted a shot at the Ensworth goal from 10 yards out only to be stopped by Ensworth goalkeeper Jenna Rolfe. 
 
The Briarcrest defense had an excellent night and made two big plays early in a two minute span. With 35 minutes remaining, senior Megan Henry blocked a seemingly dangerous shot with her leg to send it over the end line for a corner kick. A minute later, in the midst of chaos around the Briarcrest 18, freshman Peyton Moore booted the ball safely away and negated the Ensworth threat. 
 
 
The Lady Saints hit pay dirt with 32 minutes left in the first half, when junior Alyssa Neuberger received a long pass from junior Holland Heinz and then headed the ball to fellow junior Brittany Hatmaker who was breaking on the goal from the left side of the Ensworth box. Hatmaker quickly took control of the ball and fired it past a charging Rolfe into the right side of the Ensworth goal to make it 1-0 Briarcrest. It was the 10th goal of the year for the fleet footed forward. 

With 30 minutes left until halftime, Neuberger took a free kick from 25 yards out and sent a blistering shot towards the left post where it was deflected out of bounds by Rolfe for a corner kick. Two minutes later, the Lady Saints were threatening again when Neuberger turned with the ball in the Ensworth defensive third to pass it back to senior Katie Walker on the left side who launched a shot at the Lady Tiger goal, but it sailed just over the crossbar. 
 
Ensworth threatened with 27 minutes left until halftime when the Lady Tigers took a free kick from 30 yards out. The ball sailed towards the Briarcrest goal, hit the Briarcrest crossbar and rebounded into the field of play. The Lady Saints were able to clear it away. 
 
The Lady Saints had several opportunities towards the latter part of the first half including shots by Hatmaker, freshman Ashton Pugh, sophomore Taegan Allen
senior Baylee Wilkerson and Neuberger that failed to find their mark. The score at half was 1-0 Briarcrest.
 
The second half opened with the Lady Saints keeping up the pressure. Samisch lofted a cross into the Ensworth box two minutes into the second half where Hatmaker had a beautiful header caught by Rolfe. Six minutes later, Hatmaker had her shot blocked by the Lady Tiger defense and soon afterwards Neuberger fired a shot at the Ensworth goal only for it to be also blocked. 
 
With 20 minutes left on the clock, Walker passed the ball to Neuberger who in the Ensworth defensive third then sent it out on the left wing where Heinz fired a shot that was caught by Rolfe. Less than a minute later, Allen sent a ball to Hatmaker at the top of the box, but Hatmaker's shot was saved by Rolfe.  
 
Ensworth counterattacked with some 19 minutes remaining resulting in a save by Briarcrest goalkeeper AD Streetman. It was one of five saves she was credited for on the night. The Lady Saints defense was tested again a minute later, but Wilkerson came up big by stealing the ball from the Ensworth attacker inside the Briarcrest box and kicked it up the field. 
 
With 11 minutes remaining, sophomore Kaitlin Echols launched a beautiful shot at the Ensworth goal and on the ensuing rebound Hatmaker just missed beating the keeper to the ball. 
 
Then with 10 minutes left in the game, Echols found Neuberger near the top of the Ensworth box. Neuberger quickly passed to Hatmaker on her left and cut towards straight towards the goal. Hatmaker then fed Neuberger who struck a hard grounder into the right corner past a diving Rolfe to make it 2-0 Briarcrest. It was Neuberger's team leading 23rd goal of the season. 
 
A few minutes later, Coach Heinz decided to switch positions and placed Neuberger as a center back and moved Henry up top to forward. Senior Chase Mangrum entered the game. 
 
With two minutes remaining, Hatmaker had a breakaway and was heading towards the Ensworth goal when she was taken out by a Lady Tiger defender who was given a yellow card for the foul. On the subsequent free kick from the left wing, Samisch struck the ball aiming for the far right post, but it was stopped by Rolfe.
 
The Lady Saints did not let up and with a little over a minute left, Mangrum fought in the Ensworth defensive third and won a ball which she then sent to Henry who was unable to get a shot at the Ensworth goal. 
 
Ensworth kept pressing towards the end and only until a beautiful diving save by Streetman to her right with four seconds remaining did the Lady Saints maintain the shutout and were sure they were moving on to Murfreesboro. It was Streetman's first career shutout and the team's sixth shutout of the season. 
 
Briarcrest improved to 16-1-2 on the season and now faces a rematch of last year's semifinal in which the Lady Saints fell to Father Ryan 1-0. Father Ryan's record stands at 10-5-4 (4-1-1 in East and Middle Region). The Fighting Irish finished second in their region and advanced to the semifinals with a 5-2 thrashing of Pope John Paul II. 
 
"We played with a sense of urgency from the outset and set the tone early by scoring first," said Heinz. "We had plenty of opportunities we should have taken advantage of to score more, but credit Ensworth and its keeper. It was a great overall effort and so proud of what the girls have accomplished so far this season. Winning region for the first time since 2008 was a big accomplishment, but we have bigger goals." 
 
"The girls knew they were expected to win," added Heinz. "Now they can look forward to their second consecutive trip to State with the mindset we're back again and ready to give it our all." 
 
The Lady Saints received some not so good news as freshman defender Sarina Diebenow fractured a growth plate in her knee early in the contest and is expected to be out six to eight weeks. It is the first major injury sustained by a Lady Saints varsity player this season. 
 
 

              

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