Coweta Cup Soccer

Northgate girls outlast East Coweta in OT

by Chris Goltermann


East Coweta defender Nikki Brandley gets a head on a Northgate corner kick in front of the Lady Indians goal with Lady Vikings Ashley Keller (9), Reece Weaver and Lily Barron within range. 

Dallas Weaver admitted she was not having one of her best soccer games for Northgate by the time Wednesday’s Coweta Cup match against East Coweta neared the closing minutes of regulation.

It was enough that the Lady Viking midfielder attempted to signal coach Bryan Hicks to take her out of the game.

Boy, was she glad he didn’t.

Weaver found herself with the ball after she knocked down an attempted clear by Lady Indians keeper Kellsey Weaver as she charged out of goal - and unfortunately out of position.

The Northgate sophomore didn’t hesitate, sending a ball over the East Coweta goalie’s head and into an open net with just under 1:30 to play in a final overtime period and the lead held for a 2-1 Lady Vikings victory in a game played at Newnan High’s Drake Stadium.

“I looked up and saw her so I decided to chip it over her head. At first I thought it was going to go wide,” Northgate’s Weaver admitted. “But then I watched it roll in and my sister [Reece] immediately jumped in my arms.”

It was a wild ending to a game that seemed destined to conclude in penalty kicks after teams traded a pair of goals in the opening 40 minutes before the game picked up even more intensity after halftime.

Northgate improved its record to 11-1 while East Coweta fell to 10-3 with all three losses this season coming after regulation.

“You’ve got to give them credit. They had their chances and we had our chances,” East Coweta head coach Chris Luppens said. “I’m proud of the girls. To have three losses and all them come in overtime [or penalty kicks] I can deal with that.”

Northgate’s victory snapped East Coweta’s two-year hold of bragging rights over the Lady Vikings following last year’s 3-1 loss as well as a 2-0 defeat in 2012. It came with the team playing man-down at the finish after losing striker Lily Barron to a second yellow-card that will keep her out of Friday’s Coweta Cup finale against Newnan.

A win over the Lady Cougars will give Northgate’s girls this year’s cup title, with Newnan’s girls also still having a chance to keep its reign for another year. It would take defeating Northgate by at least four goals to make up the difference in Monday’s loss to East Coweta.

Getting past the Lady Indians was no easy task for Northgate, which never trailed, but also only managed to hold a lead for close to 10 of the 90 minutes played in Wednesday’s cup game.

“I can’t remember the last time we beat them, really,” Hicks said, adding of the game-winning goal, “I looked up and saw her kick it and right away went, ‘What is she doing? Then I saw that she was out of the goal. Just a freak play. But those are the things that you need in tough games like this one.”

East Coweta’s two keepers - Weaver and Sam Hoffman, who played through a scoreless second half - joined Northgate’s Mattea Lewis in keeping teams scoreless for more than an hour of play.

The Lady Vikings finished with five corner kicks and at least as many free kicks, with East Coweta defending all but one chance.

“We need to do a little better job on that,” Hicks admitted. “That’s what wins games like this.”

The opening 40 minutes of play provided what seemed expected from a pair of 10-win lineups, not only trading goals, but momentum. Respective sweepers Nikki Brandley of East Coweta and Hayli Verbanic of Northgate took turns trying to center defensive efforts from the back line.

Brandley, also an accomplished goal scorer, was kept on the back line throughout while consistently thwarting Northgate chances with clears either using her feet or her head.

The Lady Vikings, though, had greater success keeping the ball on their opponents side of the field while trying to take advantage of three corner kicks in the opening eight minutes as well as four free kicks, converting on its first attempt in the 13th.

Verbanic served a near-perfect ball to the left of East Coweta keeper Kellsey Weaver that found teammate Cara Rhoad for a header that ricocheted into the right corner of the net for a 1-0 lead.

Shots from either side were in short supply, though, with senior midfielder S.K. Palmer finally testing Lewis in Northgate’s net from just outside the box on a ball that was quickly corraled in the 18th minute.

But East Coweta found the net with its next opportunity, sending senior striker Ren Waters inside the box. The Lady Indian forward got her right foot on the ball just before both Verbanic and Lewis arrived for a sharp-angle shot as she fell to the turf that followed into the open net, tying the game in the 22nd minute.

“She’s been scoring goals against us like that for four years,” said Hicks in a nod to Waters. “Did you see that shot she made? I just love watching her play.”

Northgate 2, East Coweta 1, OT

Northgate 1 0 0 1 — 2

East Coweta 1 0 0 0 — 1

Goals: Northgate — Cara Rhoad, Dallas Weaver; East Coweta - Ren Waters.

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