High School Soccer

Hawks advance to Elite 8; Heritage girls lose in OT

by Chris Goltermann


Heritage School freshman Gina Brillanti tries to pry the ball loose from Tattnall Square’s goalkeeper in the closing seconds of regulation as teammate Callista Eckert looks on. The game went to overtime before a goal in the final 30 seconds gave the Lady Trojans a 2-1 win. 

The Heritage School’s soccer programs experienced both sides of the emotional spectrum in the first round of the GISA Class AAA Soccer Tournament.

Typically, the Lady Hawks have been the last of their two respective lineups to close the season. But from here on in, they’ll have to root the boys on from the sidelines.

In what may have seemed improbable from the start of the 2014 season, Heritage’s boys marched into Class AAA Elite 8 on Wednesday with a dominating 3-0 shutout of Westfield, the No. 3 seed from Region 2-AAA.

A Hawks program that hadn’t sniffed the state playoffs for the past decade since winning a Class AA state title in 2004 has become big believers under first year head coach Nathan Watts after the team improved to 12-2 overall.

Both losses this season have come against Region 1-AAA champion Holy Spirit.

“It’s pretty exciting right now for us,” Watts said of the victory. “A lot of our kids haven’t been in that type of situation. It took a while, but once we got through that tightness, we got things going.”

Breaking a scoreless tie after halftime with three unanswered goals, the Hawks took control of the game. Jack Cranford opened the scoring at the 50 minute mark off an assist from David Martin.

“That gave us the spark we needed,” Watts said.

David Barber followed by netting two goals of his own, each putting further distance between the Hawks and Westfield, which went 4-6 in a region dominated by GISA soccer powers Stratford Academy and Mount de Sales, which hosted Trinity Christian in the first round.

Kyle Shuman assisted on Barber’s first tally while Cole Bridges set up his teammate on the final Hawks goal.

A stingy defense paved the way for a shutout for first-year junior goalkeeper Cole Jones.

The chimes of the victory bell at Heritage came after the Lady Hawks closed their year with a heart-wrenching 2-1 loss in overtime to a Tattnall Square lineup that picked up a pair of goals from Drew Endreson in the closing seconds before the horn sounded, the latter of which with just 26.9 ticks left in a 10-minute extra session.

Twice Endreson found a way to put shots into the far right corner at inopportune times for Heritage’s girls. After the Lady Hawks dominated much of the opening 40 minutes, clanging two shots off the post, the Lady Trojan broke in for a goal with a mere 4.9 seconds on the first-half clock.

Endreson then broke Heritage’s hearts by sending a free kick over the Lady Hawks wall in the closing seconds of overtime, with the ball tipping off the stretched left glove of keeper Lillie Smith and into the net for the eventual game-winner.

“I thought we dominated every aspect of that game except the final score,” said Lady Hawks head coach Ron Rineer of a talented lineup that included just two seniors — Ansley Dieckmann and Kaytlin Squires — this spring. “I can’t say enough about what Ansley Dieckmann has meant to this program. I still remember when she was practicing with our team as a seventh grader getting ready for the playoffs. And Kaytlin has been invaluable for us.”

Despite trailing 1-0 at halftime, Heritage’s girls seemed to be ready to take control of the game over the closing 40 minutes with Smith reeling in a couple of opportunities from Tattnall.

They didn’t nearly number the scoring chances by the Lady Hawks. Led by Callista Eckert’s tenacious play, Heritage put together several runs on goal including one from the sophomore midfielder that ended with a shot that was deflected out of play for a corner kick with just over 13 minutes in regulation.

It set up a corner kick by younger sister Jaina Eckert, with the eighth grader’s serve deflecting behind Tattnall’s keeper and into the net for a 1-1 tie.

The Lady Hawks kept the pressure deep in Tattnall’s zone for much of the final 10 minutes of the second half, with junior Sara Brillanti setting up Calista Eckert on a cross that was redirected on a hard volley right to Tattnall’s keeper.

Heritage’s girls seemed to carry the momentum into overtime, pushing the ball again into the Lady Trojans’ zone. The best opportunity to go ahead came on a collision between Tattnall’s keeper and a Lady Hawk to the right of an empty goal, with the ball rolling slowly toward the outside of the post out of bounds.

“All five of our losses this year came in overtime or penalty kicks,” Rineer said.

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