By Brad Fauber
STEPHENS CITY -- Goals were at a premium for much of Thursday's Northwestern District girls soccer match between host Sherando and Millbrook. So when junior Erin Magalis cashed in with the game's first goal to give the Warriors a lead midway through the second half, it appeared Sherando might finally get its long overdue win over the Pioneers.
Unfortunately for the Warriors, Magalis' goal may have been just the jolt that Millbrook needed.
Pioneers senior Holly Elko powered a late surge for Millbrook, as she scored twice in the match's final 15 minutes to hand Sherando a 2-1 loss.
"We've been working a lot on attitude and making sure that we don't let one goal end the game or finish the game," Elko said. "After that [first] goal, we definitely had our heads down for a couple minutes, but we realized we still had it. It wasn't that much of a loss, and we proved that."
The match remained scoreless until the 60th minute, as a deflected shot off the foot of Sherando senior Amanda Fogarty set up a corner kick for the Warriors (4-3-1, 1-2 Northwestern). Fogarty sent the ensuing kick into the box, where the ball was grazed on a header attempt by Warriors junior Audra Sites before settling in front of Magalis. The junior sent the ball past Millbrook keeper Caitlin Schrader to give Sherando a 1-0 lead.
"I just saw it coming to me and I knew I had to fire it in there," Magalis said. "I made sure that I covered back side because I didn't want anything to get out. It was just a perfect little flick ... so I had a really nice angle."
The Warriors' lead was short-lived, however, as Millbrook (7-1-2, 2-0-2) answered with Elko's first goal just over five minutes later. Pioneers sophomore Lauren Reed fired the initial shot on goal, but the ball was deflected to Elko in the middle of the box. Elko beat Sherando freshman keeper Amanda Hott (four saves) off the rebound to tie the match.
Elko gave Millbrook the lead with just four minutes remaining, as she gathered a throw-in from the sideline, dribbled into the box and snuck a shot through a crowd in the penalty box and into the left side of the net.
"I saw the opportunity. I saw the open net, the goalie dove for it and it just kind of went through her hands," Elko said.
Millbrook, which came up empty on eight shot attempts in the first half before finally breaking through late, held an 18-10 shot advantage in the game.
"I felt we played well the whole game. I was not upset with how we were playing, we just couldn't finish in the first half," Pioneers coach Matt Cottino said. "[The Warriors] put the goal in and I'm so proud of them because they kept their heads up and they got two goals after that."
Sherando made a desperate push for the tying goal during stoppage time, and junior Victoria Dean nearly evened the match on a breakaway attempt in the closing minute, but her shot hit the right goal post. Magalis tried a sliding shot off the rebound, but the ball was cleared by Millbrook's defense.
The Warriors had also missed on several chances for a goal late in the first half, as they pushed the ball into the box on multiple occasions with nothing to show for it.
"They finished, we didn't. We even hit post there at the end. They finished two, we didn't," Warriors coach Rob Kilmer said. "I think it was a midfield game. It was a pretty even game for the most part."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @BradFauberNVD