In a soccer match that featured 15 goals and seemingly little defense, it was a defensive move that paid the most dividends for Brookstone's girls Thursday night.
With 15 minutes to go in the match and Brookstone clinging to a 7-5 lead over Our Lady of Mercy, Rachel Moore -- the Lady Cougars' leading scorer -- was dropped back into a more defensive role by Brookstone coach Mary Sparks in hopes of slowing down OLM's top play
er, Naho Jalajel.
The move worked, as OLM was held scoreless the rest of the way and the Lady Cougars scored three goals in the final 7:04 to pull away and earn a 10-5 victory in the opening round of the Class A playoffs.
"(When Sparks moved her into a defensive role) I was disappointed because I like to score goals," said Moore, who scored five goals and also added an assist. "But that doesn't matter because I'm going to do what's best for the team and if that's play more in the midfield and stop people from scoring, that's what I'll do. The team comes first."
Brookstone (10-4-2) now advances to Tuesday's quarterfinals, where the Lady Cougars will take on Aquinas (8-5-1) in Augusta.
"We played well, but it wasn't up to the expectations we have of ourselves," Moore said.
"The main thing is that we lived to play another day."
Early on, it looked like Brookstone was going to steamroll OLM, as the Lady Cougars scored three times in the first 12:54 -- all on goals by Moore -- to open up a 3-0 advantage. Kristen Young -- who finished the match with three goals and a staggering five assists of her own -- had two of the assists and Juliana Cailgaris picked up the other off a corner kick.
Jalajel scored at the 13:40 mark to cut the deficit to 3-1.
But Moore and Young each found the back of the net to give the Lady Cougars a 5-1 lead just 20 minutes into the match.
However, the Bobcats got two goals back -- one apiece from Anna Wilczynski and Olivia Wells -- before halftime and Brookstone was up 5-3 at the break.
OLM actually outshot the Lady Cougars, 12-11, in the first half, but Brookstone keeper Caroline Patton made five saves to keep the Lady Cougars ahead.
Jalajel got her second goal of the match one minute into the second half to make it 5-4, but Moore netted her fifth goal just under two minutes later on a pass from Young to keep the Lady Cougars ahead, 6-4.
The Bobcats made one final push when Jeanne Marie Farner scored off a pass from Jalajel -- who had two goals and three assists -- to get to within 6-5 with 24-plus minutes still to go, but Brookstone didn't let OLM find the back of the net again.
With just under 15 minutes to go, Young headed home a Moore corner kick to give Brookstone a 7-5 lead.
That was when Sparks moved Moore into a midfield position to try and contain Jalajel and give the Lady Cougars a better chance of holding on for the victory.
"(Moore) loves to score and is fast, but she stepped in and did what we needed her to do," said Sparks. "At that point in the match, I felt like we just needed to weather the storm and it worked.
"But to be able to do that, I had to have confidence in the other midfielders and forwards and they came through for us."
With Jalajel unable to score or put her teammates in a position to score, Brookstone was able to go to work offensively and Young got her third goal of the match at the 72:56 mark off a pass from Claire Galbraith to make it 8-5.
Kathleen Chancellor and Galbraith both scored goals in the final four minutes.
Thursday at Brookstone
Goals--Our Lady of Mercy: Nahyo Jalajel 2, Anna Wilczynski, Olivia Wells, Jeanne Marie Farnet. Brookstone: Rachel Moore 5, Kristen Young 3, Kathleen Chancellor, Claire Galbraith. Assists--Nahyo Jalajel 3. Brookstone: Kristen Young 5, Rachel Moore, Meg Harris, Juliana Caligaris. Goalies--Our Lady of Mercy: Viviana Vargas 9 saves. Brookstone: Caroline Patton 11 saves. Records--Our Lady of Mercy 4-8-1, Brookstone 10-4-2. Next: Brookstone at Aquinas (State Playoffs Quarterfinals) Tuesday.