GHSA Soccer Playoffs – AAAAAA
Lady Indians storm past Colquitt
by Chris Goltermann
As it turned out, the toughest aspect of East Coweta’s girls advancing to the second round of the GHSA Class AAAAAA State Soccer playoffs was making sure its coaching staff made it to the game on time.
The Lady Indians — who dominated every aspect of a 6-0 victory in their playoff opener against visiting Colquitt County on Wednesday — experienced just how important home-field advantage can be for the postseason after head coach Chris Luppens and assistant Todd Beldon were delayed coming home after East Coweta’s boys defeated Lowndes late Tuesday.
Impending weather, along with a tornado watch in south Georgia early Wednesday, kept the Indians in a hotel overnight. The bus from Lowndes finally returned to campus at 4 p.m., roughly 90 minutes prior to the girls game at Garland Shoemake Stadium.
“I was scurrying around trying to get ready,” Luppens said. “But I was worried more about myself than the girls. I knew they’d be fine.”
Were they ever.
A balanced East Coweta’s lineup dominated from start to finish in a textbook performance for a state playoff opener. The Lady Indians had three times as many scoring chances as goals in a game that could have ended by the mercy rule after taking a 4-0 lead into halftime.
It stayed that way until the final five minutes until the hosts connected twice more with senior forwards Ren Waters and Nikki Brandley buzzing around the Colquitt net throughout the second half.
Senior midfielder Anna Lauzon led the scoring with three goals on an overcast afternoon that may as much hinted impending doom for Colquitt County, which closed its season at 6-11 after finishing as the No. 4 seed out of Region 1-AAAAAA.
Waters, who took a kick to the knee just prior to the final buzzer and had to be helped off the field, finished with a goal and an assist and Brandley was held to an assist after hitting the post twice and having another shot accidently blocked by a teammate near the goal line off a corner kick.
“I think she’ll be OK,” Luppens said of Waters. “You could tell [Colquitt] was getting a little frustrated. She’s a senior and it’s tough to take her off the field.”
Junior Lynnsey Danford and senior Katie Sutherland also scored for East Coweta in the victory, which sent East Coweta into a second-round home match against Hillgrove (11-6-1). Much like the Lady Indians, Hillgrove dominated Luella in a 7-0 win, but had to do it on the road as the No. 3 seed from Area 4-AAAAAA.
In East Coweta’s rout, Lauzon scored two of her team’s first three goals including a long shot that allowed the team to finally break through on the scoreboard in the 14th minute after getting at least a half-dozen shots toward the Lady Packers net.
The Lady Indians finished the game with 30 shots and seven corner-kick opportunities while keeping possession deep in Colquitt’s zone for the majority of 80 minutes.
Lauzon got things started for the Lady Indians on a 45-yard serve into the goal crease on a free kick into a swirling wind that eluded Colquitt keeper Sarah Matney after being disrupted in front as Waters rushed toward the ball from her striker position.
To Matney’s defense, Colquitt was no match for a 13-5-1 East Coweta lineup that has bigger plans this postseason. Neither of the Lady Indians keepers, starter Kellsey Weaver and freshman Sam Hoffman, faced a shot on goal.
East Coweta started four seniors, four juniors and three sophomores while also not afraid to get every reserve playing time. Sophomore Lindsey Spooner, who came off the bench, assisting on Lauzon’s final goal, a header from the left post in the 75th minute, on a perfectly-executed cross from the right side.
“These girls all really get along well with each other,” Luppens said. “They get together every Thursday night to have dinner.”
Even when they came within 30 yards of the net, East Coweta’s outside backers Abigail Pepper and Tara Federico too often turned the play in the opposite direction while manning the back line with Sutherland and sophomore Morgan Haase.
Danford also connected from long-range to put the Lady Indians ahead 2-0 in the 17th minute on a shot from along right wing.
Six minutes later, Lauzon volleyed home a cross from the penalty-shot area and Waters capped off the first-half scoring in the 37th minute on a feed from Brandley off the left side.
Sutherland was able to move up from her defensive position late in the game and capped off the scoring off a feed from Waters with just over two minutes remaining.
“It was good to give her a chance to play up front with her being a senior,” Luppens said. “I don’t expect us to have another game like this. But I really like the way we’ve been playing.”
Lady Indians 6, Lady Packers 0
Colquitt County 0 0 — 0
East Coweta 4 2 — 6
Goals: East Coweta —Anna Lauzon 3, Ren Waters, Lynnsey Danford, Katie Sutherland.
Goalies: East Coweta —Kellsey Weaver (1st half), Sam Hoffman (2nd); Colquitt —Sarah Matney