The Augusta Preparatory Day School squad got the ball rolling last week for girls soccer in Columbia County, and now the local public-school teams will try to follow suit in state-playoff action.
After a long layoff and a first-round playoff bye, Augusta Prep was rusty and almost ended the 2003 season on a sour note.
The Lady Cavaliers posted a 2-1 victory over Tattnall Square Academy on Thursday at Blanchard Field, but despite nailing down a spot in the Georgia Independent Schools Association Class AAA Final Four, the win was more of a warning for Prep coach Doug Williamson.
"There are two things to consider at this point," Williamson said. "You have to celebrate the accomplishments of the season, but we have to realize that we can play a whole lot better."
That advice should be heeded by the rest of Columbia County's girls soccer teams, which open Georgia High School Association playoff action today.
Augusta Prep's Rebecca Smith (second from right)
celebrates with her teammates after scoring a goal - the first of the game - against Tattnall Square. She made the score through traffic, firing a shot from 25 yards.
Photo by Jonathan Ernst
For the first time ever, all four county public school girls soccer teams are at home for first-round playoff matches. Liberty County is at Harlem (6 p.m.), Columbus is at Lakeside (6 p.m.), Roswell is at Evans (5 p.m.), and Griffin is at Greenbrier (6 p.m.).
"The brackets set up really well for the girls," Lakeside coach Donny Rogers said. "Hopefully, we can take advantage of that, but there are always some early upsets."
Harlem, Evans, Lakeside and Greenbrier have combined for a 67-12-7 record in 2003, but those numbers don't guarantee state-playoff success - Augusta Prep entered its match against Tattnall with a 12-2-1 mark, and barely dodged defeat.
Augusta Prep dominated the first thirty minutes of the match, as Rebecca Smith and Abby Jones each scored to put Prep ahead 2-0.
But the Lady Cavaliers got complacent, and had to sweat out the final minutes of the match.
When the win was secured, Augusta Prep set a school record for soccer wins in a season at 13, but Williamson was a bit worried by his team's poor transition game in the midfield.
"Midfield ball control is something we have to do more of," he said. "We have some nagging injuries to top players, and I know that it's difficult, but we've got to step it up."
The good news is that the Lady Cavs have an opportunity to get it right Friday at the GISA Class AAA Final Four in Macon. Augusta Prep will face First Presbyterian Day, with the winner of that 5:30 p.m. match advancing to the state finals Saturday at Stratford Academy.
"When you get to the Final Four, you have to be lucky and you have to be good," Williamson said. "The lucky part we can't control. The good part we can control. In that sense, it won't be whether we win or lose, it will be how we play the game. We're looking for a good effort, intensity and smart soccer."
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