Photo: David McGregor Peachtree Ridge's Kayla Jones (24) looks for an open teammate as Alpharetta defender Lauren Adamovich closes in during the second half of the Lions loss to the Raiders in the AAAAA state tournament quarterfinals on Saturday.
SUWANEE --Peachtree Ridge's girls lacrosse players nearly made history again.
The Lions jumped up early on Alpharetta and held the lead until late Saturday afternoon, challenging the visitors until the very end. Alpharetta finally escaped with a 9-8 victory in the Class AAAAA second round, holding on for the win when Peachtree Ridge sophomore Darby Frisbie's shot was blocked away by the goalkeeper as time expired.
"(Alpharetta's) the No. 2 seed in probably the best area in the state and they've beat everybody in the area except (No. 1) Milton," said Peachtree Ridge girls coach Michael Thomas, whose team nearly became the first Gwinnett lacrosse team to win a second-round game. "It was a tough loss, but the girls played really, really well the entire game. In the second half, (Alpharetta) probably had more experience than us and that probably helped. We're still a young team."
Peachtree Ridge (15-5) led throughout but an Alpharetta goal with 8:46 left tied the score at 8-8. The Raiders, who had a big advantage on draws in the second half, regained control and scored 30 seconds later to take their first lead at 9-8.
They spent much of the remaining time in stall mode in an attempt to hold possession and drain clock. But the Lions broke through by forcing a turnover with 29 seconds left, giving them one last chance at a tie.
Frisbie was fouled with 10 seconds left, then fouled twice more as Alpharetta tried to sap the clock without a final attempt. Frisbie got a good shot with two seconds left that was deflected away, allowing time to expire.
"Honestly, I was happy to be in that position (to get a final shot), because that's what we needed to do, get the ball back on defense," Thomas said. "The worst thing would have been to let them stall out the end of the game.
"(Frisbie) made a good shot and that (Alpharetta) goalie's just good. She has a 70 percent save percentage."
Peachtree Ridge showed confidence from the start, riding the confidence from its first-round win, which was the first-ever playoff victory by a Gwinnett girls lacrosse team.
Rachel Harper, who scored a team-high four goals, scored on the game's first possession for a 1-0 lead and less than two minutes later Kayla Jones scored on a Devin Strickland assist. Harper scored again at the 18:33 mark for a 3-0 lead before Michelle Fortier's back-to-back goals, the second off a Jones assist, made it 5-0 Lions with 8:28 left in the first half.
Alpharetta, turned away early by Peachtree Ridge goalkeeper Izzy Ivory's saves and teammate Ashley Sawdey's solid defense, finally scored with 7:36 left in the first half. The Raiders closed to within 5-2 by halftime.
Harper scored 54 seconds into the second half off a Jones assist, but it was answered by consecutive Alpharetta goals. Harper put her team back up 7-4 with 18:46 left, but three straight Raider goals tied the score 7-7.
With 10:44 left, Fortier scored her 105th goal of the season as Peachtree Ridge took its final lead at 8-7.
The Lions weren't able to hold that advantage, but it couldn't put a damper on a historic season.
"I feel like Gwinnett's starting to catch up (in lacrosse)," Thomas said. "In the past, we've been on a completely different tier from the North Fulton teams. Now we've proven we're on the same tier as those top teams."