ATLANTA -- Give Sumner Pilcher credit for a couple of things: her lethal foot and her sense of humor.
The foot came first late in the Elite 8 round game Monday when Pilcher bounced a shot into the net that all but bounced Deerfield-Windsor's girls soccer team right into the GISA Class AAA Final Four with a 5-3 win against Holy Spirit.
"I've never done that before,'' said Pilcher of her remarkable shot that came with eight minutes left, and lifted DWS to a 5-3 lead.
Pilcher's game-breaker came from about 50 yards out on a free kick -- a shot that hit the turf so hard that it bounced over the goalkeeper, who was diving, and into the net.
"It bounced and popped right over the keeper's head,'' said Pilcher, who jumped higher than the ball had bounced after the shot.
"I'm kind of physically challenged,'' she joked. "But I got up pretty high.''
She even had a touch of humor about her shot.
"It was very lucky on my part,'' she said. "But there was a lot of skill.''
Go ahead and laugh. Go ahead and joke, Deerfield. This is the kind of comeback that deserves smiles and hugs and laughter, and the kids from DWS did all of that and more after making the trip to Buckhead and knocking off Holy Spirit, which was the No. 1 seed and favored by most.
"They're the No. 1 team in their region and they've got a real good team,'' said DWS coach Aly Joslin, whose team had to come back all day -- from 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 deficits.
"They played well against a lot of good teams and they deserved to be where they were, and playing at their place people might say it was a bit of an upset, but we felt we were the better team.''
DWS simply outplayed Holy Spirit in the late stages of the game. The Lady Knights were without one of their top scorers, Lauren Fulford, who is out with a torn ACL, and after they fought back to tie things at 3-3 on Casey Kincheloe's goal, Candace Cosby left with an ankle injury.
"We were down,'' said Joslin, remembering the moment. "Everything we do goes through (Cosby) and she came off the field, and we were just hanging on a little bit.''
Then Kincheloe got free on a breakaway and drilled a shot home. The Holy Spirit keeper made a brilliant save, but couldn't hang on, and when the ball skipped free Cheyenne Colvin was right there to slam in a 4-3 lead that changed everything.
"That was a massive momentum changer,'' Joslin said. "That was massive.''
Colvin's goal came with about 15 minutes left, and then came the Pilcher Bounce, and suddenly it was Deerfield's game.
"Cosby begged to go back in the game, and after we got the 5-3 lead she went back in,'' Joslin said. "We dropped everyone back after that fifth goal. We just dropped back and made up our minds we couldn't give anything up.''
It was Cosby who scored DWS' first goal to knot things at 1-1, and then Bailey Weed came through to make it 2-2, before Kincheloe brought the Lady Knights back with a 3-3 goal to set up the final dramatics.
Those dramatics were punctuated by Katy Williams' unforgettable game in the net. Williams has been stingy all season, and on Monday she played her heart out, making four game-changing saves to keep Deerfield in the game.
"She was incredible,'' Joslin said of his keeper.
DWS (13-4-1) travels to Stratford for a Final Four game at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
DWS BOYS LOSE, 2-1: The DWS boys saw their season end in a bitter 2-1 loss in the Elite 8 round of the playoffs to Holy Spirit, which scored a goal with 45 seconds left to break a 1-1 tie and advance to the GISA Class AAA boys Final Four.
"It was a heartbreaker,'' Joslin said. "This team was 2-15 last year and didn't win a region game, and they have come so far this season. The boys have really come on massive this year.''
Jonathan Jones gave the Knights a 1-0 lead early, and DWS' defense and goal keeper Don Scozzari were unrelenting until the final seconds when Holy Spirit scored on a rebound shot.
Holy Spirit tied the score at 1-1 before halftime on what Joslin called a "questionable" goal.
"We were up 1-0 and playing really well when they scored a questionable goal,'' he said. "We thought it was offside.''
DWS ends its season with a 9-9 record.