Nadia Palachtchouk

Gardendale senior Nadia Palachtchouk (17) throws the ball in during a 3-1 win over Mortimer Jordan in Driver Stadium. 

A distant rivalry seems to be forming on the pitch.

For the second consecutive year, Gardendale has edged Pell City in the Class 6A girls state soccer playoffs. LuLu Lancaster punched in the equalizer with less than 20 seconds remaining in regulation, goalkeeper Kathryn Jones found a save in penalty kicks and the Gardendale Rockets beat the Pell City Panthers 5-4 on Tuesday night in the second round of the playoffs.

Gardendale also snuck by the Panthers in last season’s quarterfinal round on their way to the state championship game.

In the rematch Tuesday night in Pell City, Gardendale (12-7-1) jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, but found itself trailing 4-3 in the final seconds when Lancaster was fouled. The junior, who scored five goals against Pinson Valley in first-round play, connected on her penalty kick to even the score at 4-4 and force overtime.

Two scoreless overtime periods led to penalty kicks, and that’s where the Rockets took advantage with Jones’ save.

Gardendale moves on to host Homewood in the elite eight on Friday at 5 p.m. Pell City ends its season with a mark of 13-3-2.

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