Briarwood edges out Westminster in battle of No. 1 teams

By SETH HAGAN | For the Reporter

NORTH SHELBY – A battle of number ones lived up to the hype in a defensive grudge match as host Briarwood Christian turned away the Westminster Knights Tuesday, Feb 26, by a final score of 1-0.

The Lions’ defenders frustrated Westminster’s front line all night and afforded them only a handful of scoring opportunities. All of Briarwood’s wins so far have come by way of a shutout.

“I felt we had a slow start, partly because they came out well,” said Briarwood head coach Shawn Brower. “We also played well enough to go up a couple times early, but this team, we’ve been state runner up the last two years so they’re battle-tested, they’re used to having to go the full 80 minutes and I thought they did that tonight and while we fixate on what we did up top (on offense), but what’s more impressive is we’ve given up two goals this season, and our team defense and our back line don’t get enough credit.”

Briarwood (6-0-1, 1-0) didn’t score through the first 60 minutes of the game, but the way they attacked the goal assured the hometown fans it would merely be a matter of time.

The Lions took eight shots putting six of them on goal in the first half while the defense limited the Knights to just two first half tries. The Lions were also able to manufacture more chances despite losing the possession battle in the first half.

Westminster was able to keep the ball on Briarwood’s half of the field for much of the game, but had a difficult time actually setting up teammates near the goal.

For all their time in Briarwood territory, the Knights didn’t record a single corner kick opportunity in the first half. That trend continued after halftime as well, but Briarwood was able to control the ball more down the stretch.

This resulted in six corner kicks and three more shots on goal, which finally cracked the Knights’ defense.

The Lions nearly scored twice before as an incredible bicycle kick goal was called off due to an offside penalty and a breakaway shot narrowly missed off the right goalpost.

However, on the fifth corner kick in the 66th minute, a poor clearance from Westminster to the top right corner of the box found trailing defensive back Daniel Windham, who pounded a shot into the upper right corner of the net for the game’s lone goal—Windham’s first on the varsity level.

“Daniel is a guy who is just a work horse, and that couldn’t happen to a greater kid,” Brower said. “So for him to get that was just a banger of a shot. He ripped it. Those are the kind that come at you rolling sweet, and he hit a perfect one in the upper corner. Also, I love that it was a defender because they don’t get a lot of glory so the team was super excited for him.”

Briarwoods’ defense remained stout allowing only three second half shots, two of which were on target. The Knights didn’t get their best shot at a goal until only a couple of minutes remained in the match.