Briarwood completes championship sweep

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 16, 2007

With 19 minutes remaining in Saturday&8217;s Class 5A state championship match at John Hunt Park in Huntsville, Briarwood Christian School became the only school with a chance of sweeping this year&8217;s soccer championships.

Altamont and Vestavia Hills tried, however their boys teams fell short of matching their girls&8217; titles.

A second-half stand helped secure the late connection by the Briarwood Lions&8217; captains and make the dream a reality in a 2-1 victory.

&8220;For us to do the double out here, that&8217;s just God,&8221; Lions&8217; head coach Mark Wallace said. &8220;I believe prayer works. I don&8217;t believe we pray to win, but pray to do our best and to stay calm out here and be good witnesses of Christ.&8221;

With 29 minutes to play, senior captain Matt Wallace sent a free kick sailing to the back post, where Jaryd Tehini punched in the game-winning goal.

&8220;I knew we needed it. We didn&8217;t want to go to overtime, because when it goes to overtime and PKs it&8217;s anybody&8217;s game,&8221; said Matt Wallace.

He and his team were all hoping to avoid a shootout after watching Altamont lose in sudden death, moments before the start of their game.

After defeating previously unbeaten and top-ranked John Carroll 2-0 on Friday to advance to the final,

Briarwood didn&8217;t waste much time for their first goal. Sean Tillford broke for a long run to finesse his way to

a one-on-one with the keeper and opened scoring in the 14th minute.

&8220;He&8217;s done that so many times this year. He&8217;s probably one of the most creative forwards we have,&8221; Wallace said.

Briarwood managed to hold back any threat from the Bulldogs to carry a 1-0 lead into halftime, however Ben Willis struck quick to tie the game 1-1 just 17 seconds into the second period.

&8220;I don&8217;t know if my guys ever got over the butterflies. They looked like for most of the game they were playing not to lose instead of playing to win. Sometimes an early goal is good, but sometimes it can cause you to sit back and start watching the clock for the rest of the game, and against a quality team like UMS-Wright you cannot do that,&8221; Wallace said.

Butterflies or not, Briarwood&8217;s win came down to drive and support.

&8220;We wanted it so bad. Those guys, those guys right there,

helped us,&8221; Matt Wallace said while pointing to a group of fans chanting &8220;You know it&8217;s great to be a Briarwood Lion&8230;&8221;

The championship is Briarwood&8217;s third in seven years, winning previously in 2001 and 2004, which was Wallace&8217;s first year as head coach.

&8220;We have a little pattern going here, but I don&8217;t want to have to wait until 2010,&8221; Wallace said.

With the championship sweep, Briarwood Christian became only the third school to win both the boys&8217; and girls&8217; soccer championships in the same year, with John Carroll doing so in 2000 and Grissom from 1996-99.