MACON - It's all a soccer coach wants: the best goal scorer one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
That scenario happened Thursday night for Augusta Prep. It didn't work out as coach Doug Williamson would have liked it though.
Mount de Sales goalkeeper Jay Gibson stopped Thomas Knerr to preserve a 1-0 victory and a spot in the GISA Class AAA final four.
"What can you say?," Williamson asked. "Their keeper made an outstanding save."
Knerr, who leads GISA with 40 goals and 22 assists, beat two defenders and had a breakaway opportunity one-on-one against Gibson. He shot it off his right foot, far post, but Gibson dived to his right and deflected the shot away.
"It was the best save I've seen him make all year," Mount de Sales coach Iain Jones said of Gibson, who has a 0.25 goals against average. "That is why he is the best keeper in the state. He took on one of the top scorers and stopped him."
The Cavaliers (16-4) were the only road team to lose in Thursday's quarterfinal round.
No. 5 Augusta Prep would have played unranked North Cobb Christian, which upset No. 2 Stratford, in the final four with a win Thursday.
"We can't worry about who we would have matched up with," Prep coach Doug Williamson said. "We had to take care of business tonight. But we had a more favorable match up with North Cobb than Stratford."
Third-ranked Westminster lost to No. 4 Deerfield-Windsor and Tattnall beat Dominion Christian in Marietta.
"That just goes to show you that anyone can win in the playoffs," Jones said. "It's a whole new season now. We have to take care of our business now."
No. 1 Mount de Sales (17-0) got an opportunity to play in the final four -which will be hosted by Stratford beginning Thursday - by shutting down a potent Augusta Prep team.
Prep has two of the top four goal scorers, Knerr and Cary Goldsmith, in Class AAA. The Cavaliers was one of only four teams to score on Mount de Sales this season.
Prep managed just three shots on goalkeeper Jay Gibson, who has given up four goals all season. Thursday's game was his 14th shutout of the season.
"My defense is outstanding," Gibson said. "But if one gets by them, then I'm ready to step up and make the save."
The Cavaliers scored the game's lone goal on a shot by Ryan Liedle in the 33rd minute. The senior scored his ninth goal from inside the box surrounded by a number of Prep defenders.
"It was pretty congested in there," Liedle said. "I didn't panic and shot far post. It was pretty good to score in your last game on your home turf."
Prep had just one scoring threat - Knerr's shot against Gibson - for the rest of the game.
Mount de Sales did a good job all night of limiting Knerr's touches, but Jones said they didn't key on him.
"We don't isolate on one player no matter how good he is," Jones said. "If you mark one player and he beats you, he will have a shot on goal. We play a zone. If a guy can beat our four defenders, then he deserves to score."
Conversely, Prep's keeper Harold Rivner was busy all night.
Rivner had 13 saves and stopped a number of point-blank shots. Mount de Sales, however, missed on a number of scoring opportunities.
"We played an outstanding team tonight," Williamson said. "There is no hanging your heads after losing to a team of that caliber."
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