Briarwood powers past Helena to book spot in quarterfinals

Published 12:33 am Wednesday, May 1, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

NORTH SHELBY – The Briarwood Christian Lions had to overcome a familiar foe to do so, but they booked their spot in the Class 6A quarterfinals with a win in the second round.

The Lions beat the Helena Huskies 4-0 on Tuesday, April 30 at Lions Pride Stadium for their third win over their area foe in 2024.

Briarwood got going on offense quickly as a third-minute shot went off the crossbar and the follow-up was saved by Addisyn Cook.

While the Huskies fought off that chance, the Lions came knocking just a few minutes later and broke through.

In the sixth minute, Brooklyn Barnett got the ball off a counterattack and found Taylor Leib with the pass. Leib then made a move and tried a pass to the bottom left corner of the goal and came up with the opening goal.

With Briarwood now up 1-0, Helena got a chance to respond in the ninth minute when a tackle atop the box led to a free kick, but Ashlynn Beery missed just to the top right corner.

The Lions used the momentum from the goal to continue to control the possession in the open field for much of the remainder of the half.

Briarwood had a 12th minute deep shot saved by Cook before Leib sent a shot over the crossbar in the 15th minute.

Two minutes later in the 17th minute, the Lions attack tried to find Zoe Eighmy in stride, but Cook collected the ball for the Huskies.

In the 20th minute, Zoe Eighmy sent a cross from the right wing into the box that went out for a corner as Briarwood kept putting the pressure on Helena.

Leib then managed two more shots in a three-minute span, including one to the right of the goal in the 24th minute and a quick shot that went over the goal in the 26th minute.

The Lions came painfully close to a second goal in the 28th minute with a shot that hit the crossbar, and they followed that with a solid idea a minute later in the form of a slip pass from Piper Eighmy to Mackenzie Key, but the shot veered right.

The Huskies got a pair of big chances on the other end of the pitch soon after as they looked to equalize.

In the 33rd minute, Beery sent a dangerous cross from the left wing, but the ball was too high even for a jumping header. Two minutes later, Helena sent a counterattack pass to Kate Hendrix, and Briarwood was there to clear it away.

The Lions then immediately went on the counterattack with a Zoe Eighmy cross that was caught by Cook.

Briarwood kept building up its attack over the next five minutes, including a pair of shots that went over the goal, before it struck in the dying moments of the half.

Leib took a shot from outside the box with 49 seconds left and scored to make the halftime lead 2-0.

That goal propelled the Lions to a massive start to the second half and eventually the win.

Two minutes into the second half, Brooklyn Barnett added to her assist from earlier in the match by scoring a goal to put Briarwood up 3-0.

It didn’t take her long to net a brace of her own after that. Taylor Matthews sent a pass to Barnett in the 50th minute, and Barnett teed off from about 15 yards out and sent a shot in the bottom left corner past a diving save attempt and into the goal.

That goal gave the Lions the 4-0 lead, and they kept Helena at bay from there to secure the clean sheet and earn their place in the second round.

Briarwood will travel to Northridge for the quarterfinals of the Class 6A playoffs with a spot in the Final Four on the line.