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Laurel shuts out Lady Panthers

LAUREL — The defense was tight on both nets, but the LaurelLady Tornadoes pounded the goal enough to squeak out a 2-0 win overBrookhaven here Tuesday night at R.H. Watkins Stadium in the firstround of the South State 4A soccer playoffs.

Laurel pretty much dominated play, but had trouble getting thatsecond goal to ice the game.

“They never gave up and battled us tooth-and-nail,” LHS headcoach Kellee Smith said of Brookhaven. “They have a real gooddefense and stayed with us toe-to-toe.”

In the first half, the Lady Tornadoes took five shots on goalbefore they scored. On a corner kick Chelsea Risher lofted the ballto Jenny Parker, who was playing away from the goal about 50feet.

“Jenny was wide open,” Smith said. “So it was a pass play andshe lifted it right into the goal.”

What turned out to be the winning score came about 15 minutesinto the game.

Brookhaven, about two minutes later, came back and took a coupleof shots at their goal, but keeper Kaley Ball made the first two ofher six saves.

In the second half, Brookhaven played on their side of the fieldfor about the first 10 minutes, taking the first three shots ongoal. Laurel turned it around, getting the next six shots, with thelast one coming about halfway into the second half for a goal.

Alexa Owens got the ball close to the goal, took a shot thatbounded off the keeper. Risher followed up the shot and just walkedit into the net that was left open by the keeper.

“We have been working real hard on crashing the goal sinceChristmas,” Smith said. “We want to crash on every shot so if theball gets loose we can put it in. The second goal was the text-bookway to do that.”

Laurel remained in control most of the rest of the way, as theLady Tornadoes ended up with 21 shots on goal and Brookhaven hadnine.

“We played a lot better the second half. Our first half wasawful,” said Brookhaven coach Amy Copeland. “But Laurel has threeforwards (Risher, Owens and Brittany Moss) that are justawesome.”

Brookhaven goalie Megan Tussey ended up with 10 saves.

“Our goalie did a good job, she definitely stepped it up in thesecond half,” Copeland said.

The Lady Panthers end their season at 11-7-1.

Laurel will play Pearl River Central, 2-0 winners overD’Iberville, Saturday at Carriere, with the game time set for 5p.m.