Mountain Brook girls top Briarwood in defensive battle

Briarwood's Olivia Smeltzer fires a shot through traffic in a contest against Mountain Brook April 22. (Reporter Photo/Drew Granthum)

Briarwood’s Olivia Smeltzer fires a pass through traffic in a contest against Mountain Brook April 22. (Reporter Photo/Drew Granthum)

By MATT CHANCE/For the Reporter

NORTH SHELBY—The common saying in sports is defense wins championships, and the Mountain Brook and Briarwood girls soccer squads showed their defensive strength as the Spartans defeated Briarwood 2-0 in a tough matchup April 22.

Briarwood nearly took an early lead after team captain Claudia Day dribbled around Mountain Brook defenders and fired a shot wide in the first 30 seconds of the game.

Mountain Brook, the defending AHSAA Class 6A champions, managed three shots on goal in the first 20 minutes of the game with BCS goalkeeper Sara Drew Mulvaney stopping them all. The game was back and forth with both defenses stifling the opposing offenses.

Mountain Brook capitalized after a close, physical play led to a Spartan getting tangled up with a Lion defender and breaking free, firing a shot past Mulvaney to make it 1-0 with 17 minutes to go in the half. Mountain Brook almost had another scoring opportunity with five minutes to go, but the chance was thwarted by Briarwood’s other team captain—defender Marjie Mckelvey—‘s strong slide tackle, preventing a shot on net. The Lions went in to the half with a one-goal deficit, 1-0.

In the second half, the Lions and Spartans started where they left off in the first half with strong defense. The physical play also seemed to increase as the game intensified, as did the fouls. Briarwood tried to get the offense clicking with a few scoring chances from Day, who struggled to get her shots on goal.

The Spartans added another goal after they found a seam through the Lions’ defense and beat Mulvaney on a breakaway for a 2-0 lead.

It was the final score of the contest, as Mountain Brook walked away with the 2-0 win.

Despite the loss, Briarwood head coach Ryan Leib said he knew his team needed a tightly-contested game like this to prepare for the playoffs.

“We did some good things. We played a good team. They are the reigning 6A champs,” Lieb said. “That’s why we play it for that reason. To get prepared for the playoffs and to be able to fight and battle. We want to play a good, difficult team that’s going to give us problems. It was good playoff preparation tonight.”

Briarwood moves on to face Benjamin Russell on the road April 29 in the opening round of the AHSAA Class 5A playoffs.