Briarwood earns rematch with Randolph in State Championship

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

HUNTSVILLE – The Briarwood Christian Lions boys soccer team has earned a rematch in the Class 4A-5A State Championship game after shutting out St. Paul’s 3-0 in the first round of the Final Four held at Huntsville’s John Hunt Park on Thursday, May 10, to pick up their 21st consecutive win on the season.

Last season, Briarwood lost 3-2 in the state championship game to Randolph after giving up two unanswered goals late in the second half to end the season in heartbreaking fashion, something none of the players have forgotten.

Now in 2018, the Lions will take on Randolph in the title game for the second consecutive year looking for redemption after both won their semifinal matchups rather easily.

Early in Briarwood’s semifinal game against the Saints, it looked like it was going to be a hard-fought battle, but one team’s defense was able to hold up and that defense was the Lions.

Through 20 minutes of play, the game was back-and-forth with each team having several chances, but both defenses stepping up to clear the zone.

Five minutes later that changed thanks to the combination of Logan Frost and Griffin Felton.

Frost, who has speed, agility and dribbling skills, was able to put all of those assets on display when he drove up the right-hand side of the field. After putting on several moves, he found himself almost to the goalie box where he unselfishly passed to teammate Griffin Felton who was right around the penalty kick spot.

Felton fired a rocket shot into the back of the net to break the 0-0 tie and put the Lions on top 1-0 with 15:58 left in the first half.

That’s all of the goal-support Briarwood needed thanks to its stellar defense. Between keeper Grant Fielding and defenseman Bryant Wood, everything that got in the box was cleared out immediately.

Strong defense by the Lions in the box became a trend as the entire team stepped up and cleared every opportunity St. Paul’s had the rest of the game no matter how pressure packed the moment or how frantic everybody was in front of the goal.

That led to a 1-0 lead at the half and plenty of confidence for Briarwood heading into the second half.

St. Paul’s, however, came out strong to start the second period looking for an equalizer.

They got two great looks within the first four minutes of the half kicking off, one of which Fielding made a mistake on and one of which he made a sprawled out incredible save on.

When it looked as if the Saints were starting to gain some confidence, Frost entered the picture again.

After shielding his defender on a long pass, Frost quickly turned up field and sprinted by everybody to find himself in an easy one-on-one situation that he buried into the back of the net to put the Lions on top 2-0.

That seemed to kill all confidence or momentum St. Paul’s had left.

With 7:14 left in the game, Frost put the final nail in the coffin with his second goal of the half on a nice header off an assist from Jeffrey Martin.

In the 3-0 shutout victory, the Lions got two goals and one assist from Frost, one goal from Felton and four great saves from Fielding.

They’ll now play Randolph for the state championship on Friday at 5 p.m. at John Hunt Park.