Briarwood loses heartbreaker in state championship

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

HUNTSVILLE – An incredible season for the Briarwood Lions’ boys soccer team came to an abrupt halt in the second half of the state championship game as they fell to Randolph 3-2 in heartbreaking fashion.

After scoring two unanswered goals to take a 2-1 lead early in the second half, Briarwood seemed to be in good shape with the lead and 35:05 left to play. Unfortunately for the Lions, it didn’t take two minutes for Randolph to respond with a goal of their own.

A break away down the middle of the field led to Randolph getting inside the box when an apparent penalty was called leading to a PK.

The Raiders’ Sam Hartley stepped up to take the penalty kick and fired it a rocket shot that rose over the goalkeeper’s hands and into the top of the net for the game-tying goal with 33:24 to play in the game.

With neither team wanting to make any mistakes, the game became very defensive over the next 15 minutes before Randolph started getting more good looks. With 17:53 remaining, Grant Fielding made a fantastic save for Briarwood after a shot from the Raiders came close to curving in.

It didn’t take long, 4:53 to be exact, before Randolph got its next chance and this time Fielding wasn’t as fortunate as the Raiders made their way into the box and got an incredible goal from Hartley, his second of the game, to give his team a 3-2 lead in the late going.

Briarwood turned up the tempo, but almost too much and just couldn’t hang on to the ball over the final 10 minutes of the game. As the time slowly ticked away the game made it all the way to the final 30 seconds with Randolph still ahead 3-2.

The Lions had one last ditch effort with about 20 seconds as they forced themselves into a corner opportunity and about as good of a chance as they could have asked for at that point.

The kick from Griffin Felton curved perfectly right in front of the goal, but Max Shaw made in an incredible one handed save to send the ball just over the cross bar. This left time for one more corner as Griffin hurried back to catch the ball and prepare a kick as the final 10 seconds ticked off.

He let the final kick of the game go, but by the time the ball reached the box time had expired, and luckily so for Randolph as they would’ve been called for a hand ball a second earlier.

It was an incredible game for Briarwood as a whole to compete with the powerhouse, but heartbreaking none the less for a team that expected nothing short of a state championship.

Logan Frost had another strong night for the Lions with three shots on goal and one goal. Hamilton Bowen also had a second consecutive strong night after scoring the Lions other goal.

Briarwood loses just one senior, which makes it heartbreaking for Ethan Housel, but they get back a load of talent, which should make it a little easier for the Lions to use this as motivation for next year’s squad.

See a full collection of images from the game at www.shelbycountyphotos.com.