Briarwood girls score five goals in second half to beat Homewood

By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor

NORTH SHELBY – In the first round of the girls’ soccer 6A tournament, the No. 2 Briarwood Lady Lions needed a second half surge to advance past No. 10 Homewood and keep their season alive.

This Briarwood squad went through Area 10 unscathed this season, amassing a perfect 4-0 record against area opponents Chelsea and Pelham. The Lady Lions finished the regular season with an 11-8-2 record, six games better than the Homewood team they faced in the first round.

Despite the Lady Patriots’ less-than-impressive win total, the opening round of the playoffs provided a game, or at least a half, that was competitive. After the first 40 minutes of action, the Lady Lions were tied with Homewood 1-1 and had been unable to put any distance between themselves and the visitors.

In the second half, the narrative was much different. Four goals in the first 10 minutes of the second half from the Briarwood offense was more than enough to put the Lady Patriots away. The Lady Lions later added one more goal in the half to make a once-competitive game anything but by the end.

“We came out blazing in the first 10 minutes (of the second half),” Briarwood head coach Ryan Leib said. “It took a little while. We played pretty decent in the first half. We were a little tentative.”

The scoring blitz was a good sign for Leib’s team, who will need to bring that same potent offense into the next round as they take on defending 5A champ and current 6A No. 1 John Carroll Catholic. The Lady Cavaliers were responsible for ending Briarwood’s season in 2014 in the second round of the 5A state playoffs via a 3-2 defeat.

“We’ll have to play our best game of the year,” Leib said. “We’re looking forward to it. We know they have the advantage physically, but mentally we feel we have the advantage.”