The Harlem High School girls soccer team kicked their way to their best record in school history last season.
Brandy Braswell (left) and Jackie Schmidt were two of the stars of the Harlem soccer team.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
The Lady Dogs amassed a 20-2-0 overall record this year and were undefeated in Region 3-AAA.
Prior to an 11-0 loss to Lovett in the quarterfinals May 8, the girls breezed through the first two rounds of state playoffs with 8-0 wins over Screven County and Fitzgerald.
Despite the disappointing loss, the girls said they are happy with their performance.
"We walked onto the field of every game not thinking we already had it won," Harlem senior sweeper Brady Braswell said. "We fought for everything we got.
"Ball control and working as a team, passing back and forth, got us a long way."
Last year, the Harlem girls posted a 19-2 record, which opened a lot of people's eyes and made this season's impressive record all that much more difficult to achieve.
"Everyone saw us coming," said Braswell, who will attend South Georgia College in Douglas, Ga., on a joint soccer-softball scholarship this fall. "They all knew we had a great team. They were ready for us."
Not wanting to rest on their laurels, some of the Lady Dogs are already preparing for their run at another region title next spring.
On the advice of Harlem coach George Berry, standout freshman goalkeeper Jackie Schmidt plans to play club ball in the fall to get ready for stronger competition next year when their region is realigned.
"We have a different region, and it's going to be tougher, but we're going to play as hard as we did this year," Schmidt said. "Hopefully, we'll still be region champs."
Although he is losing three of his senior starters - Braswell, Brandi Blevins and Mandy Moats - Berry is excited about a new crop of young players he believes will keep Harlem competitive in the new region for years to come.
"I've got a good group of girls coming up from the middle schools, and with the core I've already got, hopefully we'll be able to compete," he said.
"I'm hoping the next three years are going to be outstanding years for us in AAA."
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