TUNNEL HILL, Ga. - One-goal matches in the state playoffs are nothing new to the Northwest Whitfield boys soccer team. All three of their matches last season, when they advanced to their first-ever state quarterfinal, were decided by that margin.
From the looks of Wednesday's match, they seem comfortable in that situation.
The fifth-ranked Bruins needed penalty kicks but were able to outlast eighth-ranked Grady to advance to the second round of the Georgia Class AAAA state playoffs, out-shooting the Trojans 4-1 in the shootout after the two teams played to a 1-1 tie. Northwest (14-5) will travel to take on second-ranked Chestatee in the next round.
Giovanni Aguero broke the scoreless tie five minutes into the second half, heading in a corner kick by Cielo Nunez, but that lead stuck for only four minutes of match time, as Carlos Valdivieso rocketed a shot from about 20 feet out to tie the match.
"I think that their goal woke us up," Grady coach Thomas Waller said. "It made us realize that we have to score, and ramped up our intensity."
David Perez had a handful of opportunities all match for Northwest, but the Bruins' best player had possibly his best decision when he bowed out of the penalty-kick shootout.
"He said he wasn't shooting well today," Northwest coach Ryan Scoggins said.
He wasn't needed as Nunez, Christian Perez, Miguel Villa and Jonathan Marquez scored in the shootout. Northwest keeper Miguel Deanda saved a shot and another Grady shot sailed high.
Marquez -- who didn't play the entire match -- sealed the victory with his shot.
"We had several chances, but we have to do a better job of finishing," Scoggins said. "We had a lot of guys step up -- especially Jonathan. For a guy to come in after not playing all match and score the game-winning goal is big.
"It's playoff soccer."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6311. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.