Brookhaven Academy wins first playoff soccer game in program history

Published 10:28 pm Monday, October 2, 2023

BROOKHAVEN — Brookhaven Academy won its first playoff girls soccer game in program history Monday night. The Cougars advanced to the MAIS 5A South State Championship with a 3-0 win over St. Aloysius.  

BA Head Coach Alex Brown was pleased with the result. St Al’s coach Gio Baldizon was not thrilled with some of the calls in the game. 

One of the referee decisions was to allow play to continue despite the line ref calling offsides on Brookhaven Academy. St Aloysius conceded a corner kick in the following play and then a header from Reagan Fortenberry to open the scoring. 

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She did not have much to say after what could have been her last home game. Mallory Martin, who delivered the corner kick, shed a few tears after the match for the same reason. 

“It is really sad but I don’t know how to describe it,” Fortenberry said. “Soccer was somewhat new to me three years ago. It became my favorite sport. I may go play it in college. It isn’t the end for me and I hope I have another game here.” 

St Al lost its starting goalkeeper in the first half as Fortenberry and the keeper went for a 50-50 ball. The players connected with the ball at the same time and the Flashes keeper stayed down on the pitch. Play was allowed to continue and BA almost scored a second goal as a shot drifted wide. Parents on the Flashes sideline were not pleased but the referees said they could not stop play unless it was a head injury. 

Only one goal separated the sides going into halftime. Brookhaven Academy came out and worked hard for a second goal. St. Al’s backup goalkeeper Maddy McSherry stepped up in goal and made several key saves to keep her team in the game. 

Ava Calcote got on the end of a cross from Mallory Martin and scored a powerful header for the Cougars. St Al had a few chances to break away and counter to cut into the lead but no goal ever came to fruition. Ainsley Orr, BA’s goalkeeper, managed to keep a clean sheet in the game. 

A hand ball in the box on St Al late in the game resulted in a penalty. Martin stepped up and slotted the penalty shot home to ice the game. BA players celebrated and fans cheered at the full time whistle.  

Fortenberry said the fans make things special. 

“I appreciate the people who show up. All the people in the stands and on the tailgates on the hill. It isn’t the same for an away game,” Fortenberry said. “The shark was my favorite part tonight. A senior in my class named Thomas wore a shark costume. It is our homecoming week and tomorrow is tropical themed.” 

Brookhaven Academy will play the winner of East Rankin vs Oak Forest Thursday for the south state championship. The loss ended the St. Aloysius season. Oak Forest has to beat East Rankin for the Cougars to host a home match Thursday. South State will be a tough test but Brookhaven Academy should be prepared. 

“It is really big to make it to the South State. My first year we didn’t have a chance. Last year we had more of a chance but this year we worked harder,” Fortenberry said. “We know what we have to do to win this game. My favorite memory here was winning this game with my team. It is our first playoff win in the sport.”