Trailing by two goals early in Tuesday’s game against Effingham County, the Brunswick High girls rallied to give themselves a shot at a sweet victory at Glynn County Stadium.
However, the Pirates were unable to get over hump in a scoreless second half of a 2-1 defeat.
Brunswick nearly tied the game late on shots by Jalyn Morgan and Carri Sturm, but both were denied by the Effingham keeper.
“We just really couldn’t get over the top,” said Pirates head coach Greg Sturm. “The whole game, they would just have one girl that would just stay back. So we never had to worry about being offsides, but that stopped us from being able to do any kind of through balls and getting one-on-one with the goalie.
“We couldn’t get any runs going. We got outplayed.”
Effingham got on the scoreboard first when it chipped a ball over the head of keeper Rylee Brumbaugh, and it added another on corner kick that was deflected into goal by Brunswick to take a 2-0 lead.
Over the final 15-20 minutes of the first half, Sturm felt his team began to play its brand of soccer, and Morgan pulled the Pirates to within a goal on an assist from Emma Hilton with 10 minutes remaining in the opening half.
Despite finding its rhythm just before halftime, Brunswick was seemingly unable to rediscover it in the second half as poor passing sank the team.
“We’ve got to work it to our players who can create in the middle, and then work it to the outside so that it opens up the middle,” Sturm said. “Our passing was just not clean, and that was the biggest issue.
“I feel like if we play a little cleaner, then we get a lot more chances on goal.”
Effingham spent much of the second half punting the ball down field and making Brunswick run it down in an effort to protect the lead. One of the Rebels’ best scoring opportunities in the second half was stonewalled by Brumbaugh, who dove to deflect a shot from the corner before popping up to block another.
The stop kept the deficit at a single goal, giving the Pirates 17 more minutes to score the tying goal.
“She is an athlete and those saves are just pure heart and athleticism,” Greg Sturm said. “To be able to get down on the ground, get a tip off, and then get back and be able to get a hand up point blank, that was amazing.
“It kept us in it and gave us another couple shots to try to do something. We just couldn’t finish. Today wasn’t our day.”
Unable to get much going on offense against Effingham, Sturm felt his team was a bit too caught up in a physical matchup against a team that’s grown into a rival in recent seasons.
But the coach still likes the Pirates’ chances when the teams meet again in Effingham on April 12.
“It was a very physical game and some of our girls were letting that be the focal point, instead of just playing, and some of my best players to be honest,” Sturm said.