Even though their season had ended a good 15 minutes earlier, the seniors on the Brookstone High School girls soccer team lingered in the middle of their stadium.
There were requests to pose for photos.
There were coaches to thank and teammates to hug.
There were tears, but there were also a few smiles mixed in.
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Buford’s 3-2 victory over Brookstone Saturday in the Class A/AA quarterfinal meant that the high school playing careers of Courtney Akers, Cady Ciuba, Gabbrielle Davis and Lindley Gaston reached the end.
Akers preferred to think of the occasion as a beginning of sorts for the program.
‘‘Since we've been in high school, we haven’t gotten past the second round,’’ she said. ‘‘It’s a big accomplishment.’’
‘‘I don’t think we’ve ever played so hard,’’ Ciuba added.
The ended of their season may have been decided by about six inches. Had a header from Remi Poydasheff found the back of the net rather than the left goalpost with 24:10 left in regulation, the Lady Cougars could have at least looked forward to overtime.
Poydasheff scored seven minutes later, running on to a through ball from Mary Beth Wickham and sliding a shot past Buford keeper Rachel Kaplan, to trim the margin to 3-2. Brookstone (14-3-1) couldn’t create any similar opportunities in the final 10 minutes, however.
Led by a two-goal effort from South Carolina signee Maria Petroni, Buford (16-3-1) earned a state semifinal berth opposite Lovett.
‘‘They really pushed us,’’ Buford coach Marianne Cagle said of the Lady Cougars.
Buford enjoyed a 15-7 advantage in shots, but Brookstone goalie Lucy Pound turned away several scoring opportunities among her 11 saves.
Two of Buford’s goals came off breakaways. The Lady Wolves took the lead less than two minutes in when Petroni slipped behind the defense and finished a 1-on-1 opportunity.
Brookstone tied the game with 29:30 to go in the first half. Kaplan rushed from her net to clear away a loose ball, but her kick landed at the feet of Brookstone’s Jackie Henson. Henson unleashed a booming shot from 35 yards out before the goalie could recover. The ball sailed over the out of position goalie and landed in the net.
Moments later, Haley Holderfield ran on to a through ball from Petroni and touched it home to give Buford the lead for good. Goals: Buford — Maria Petroni 2, Haley Holderfield; Brookstone — Jackie Henson, Remi Poydasheff. Assists: Buford — Abby Leiker, Petroni, Katie Garth; Brookstone — Mary Beth Wickham. Goalkeepers: Buford — Rachel Kaplan, Brookstone — Lucy Pound. Records: Buford 16-3-1, Brookstone 14-3-1.