Prep Soccer: Second-half surge lifts East Coweta past Valdosta
By DOUG GORMAN
The first half of Wednesday’s first-round playoff soccer game between East Coweta and Valdosta probably won’t make the Lady Indians’ highlight film.
The second half just might.
It was the four-goal explosion in the second half that helped the Lady Indians look like a team with a 15-4 overall record en route to the 6-0 victory over the Lady Wildcats.
The Indians have now shut out 14 opponents.
The win pushed the Lady Indians into the second round against North Gwinnett next week at home.
North Gwinnett advanced with a 1-0 win over Grayson.
“We did really well,” East Coweta head coach Chris Luppens said. “We made some changes in the lineup, so with a 6-0 victory in the playoffs, I can’t be any more happy.”
(To view or purchase photos from this game, visit http://photos.times-herald.com/mycapture and click on Sports / Soccer for the photo gallery.)
The Lady Indians appeared ready to throw the knockout punch early against Valdosta. Serenity Waters just missed a shot that sailed wide 30 seconds into the game, and when Anna Lauzon put a shot on goal at the 30:50 mark of the contest, the Lady Indians had already outshot the Lady Wildcats 5-0 in the first 20 minutes of the game despite coming up empty.
Still, it took nearly 25 minutes into the contest before the Lady Indians put the ball into the back of the net. Sarah Palmer, who played a part in the pre-game festivities with a beautiful performance of the National Anthem, also showed she can play a tough brand of soccer too.
Palmer gave her team a 1-0 lead when she took a pass from Waters and blasted it past the Valdosta goaltender on a perfectly placed header.
That appeared to open the offensive floodgates for the Lady Indians. Less than a minute later, Lauzon passed the ball to Waters, who also headed into the goal for a 2-0 lead.
East Coweta didn’t score again until the second half.
Three minutes after the halftime break, Emily Smith gave the Lady Indians a 3-0 lead.
Ten minutes later, Lauzon scored on one of the team’s longest goals of the year when she connected on a shot from about 27 yards out.
Lauzon’s tally seemed to fire up the Lady Indians. Nikki Brantley and Waters each took shots and just missed their mark after bouncing off the post.
Jordan Grant gave her team a 5-0 lead with 12:16 left to play in the game as the Lady Indians added insurance.
Morgan Dill then closed out the scoring when she took a pass from Lauzon for East Coweta’s final victory.
Luppens knows each game is going to get tougher from here on out.
“It’s a one-game season from here on out,” he said. “The goal tonight was to get through it without any injuries, and win it. It’s all about the girls. I proud of them, and I am proud that things panned out.”
Valdosta had just a handful of chances to score, finishing the game with just three shots.