Briarwood returns to Final Four after shutting out Northridge on road

Published 11:42 pm Friday, May 3, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

TUSCALOOSA – After a pair of dominant wins in the first two rounds of the Class 6A playoffs, the Briarwood Christian Lions kept their strong form going to roll into the Final Four in Huntsville.

Briarwood went into Northridge High School and defeated the Northridge Jaguars 3-0 in the Class 6A third round on Friday, May 3 to advance to the semifinals.

The Lions took the lead early in the match and never looked back as their defense took control to hold off Northridge.

The breakthrough goal came for Briarwood about 20 minutes into the match when Taylor Matthews, fresh off her assist to Brooklyn Barnett in the second round against Helena, connected again with Barnett for the opening goal of the match.

That goal proved crucial for the Lions as it gave the lone score of the half and the 1-0 halftime lead.

From there, Briarwood built on that lead as it pulled away to earn the win.

After a scoreless opening 10 minutes of the half, Taylor Leib took a pass from Barnett just about 55 minutes into the match and scored to double up the lead.

The Lions then cruised for the next 20 minutes before adding an insurance goal with about five minutes left in the match. After scoring earlier in the half, Leib helped create another score as she got the ball to Ava Hoaglund, and Hoaglund finished the job to make the lead 3-0.

Lions keepers Sophia Stubbs and Catherine Walker helped keep Northridge at bay throughout the match to secure Briarwood’s third straight clean sheet in the playoffs.

That helped Briarwood see out the 3-0 win to punch its ticket into the semifinals.

The victory set up a rematch against Montgomery Academy in the Final Four. The Lions fell to the Eagles in a penalty shootout in the 2023 Final Four, 4-2, and will seek revenge for last year’s defeat in hopes of reaching the state championship game.

The teams will square off on Thursday, May 9 at 9 a.m. at Huntsville’s John Hunt Park.