Heritage Generals

Averaging a little less than 3.5 goals a game during the regular season, the Heritage Lady Generals have not scored as much as some of the more recent Heritage teams.

But if there was ever any time for their offense to start to come alive, it's now and Thursday night in their playoff opener, the offense did just that.

Hosting Arabia Mountain, the No. 3 seed from Region 6, the Navy-and-Red blitzed the Lady Rams with three goals in the first six minutes of the match and coasted to a 6-0 victory in the first round of the Class AAAA state tournament.

"That was good to see," Coach Kevin Terry said of the early offensive outburst. "We've had a little trouble this year scoring goals against good teams. We've been putting shots on net and creating good chances every game, but goals have been a little hard to come by at times. Tonight, though, we got off to a really great start and that's what you need (in the playoffs). It gives you a chance to take a little of a bit of a deep breath and early goals take some of the pressure off. I'm really proud of the start we had."

Fans at Jeff Sims Field had barely sat down after the national anthem when Mady Raye Terry put home the first goal of the match in just the second minute. Terry would assist Brooke Fairchild's first goal of the night a minute later and Bailey Needham collected an assist on a goal by Carol Anne Giannamore in the fifth minute.

Heritage (13-4) continued to keep up the pressure on for the rest of the half. Molly Cason made it 4-0 in the 12th minute and Allie Boyd scored off a corner kick in the 18th.

The only real scoring chance for Arabia Mountain came with 20 minutes left in the first half. A dangerous ball took a high hop over the head of keeper Lindsay Connell, but the ball missed the goal to the left and went over the end line for goal kick.

Fairchild capped the first half scoring in the 29th minute with her second tally of the night. The Lady Generals dominated possession in the second half and had multiple shots and scoring chances, but could not find way to break through with another goal.

It hardly mattered though as Heritage made it to the second round of the playoffs for the second consecutive state tournament, a solid accomplishment for a team with 10 underclassmen and just one senior in Allison Craft.

"We've started several freshman all year, but they're pretty much veterans at this point 17 games into," Terry added. "The goal is just to keep winning, survive and advance. I really don't know too much about the draw we have (for the playoffs). We're just trying to win one game at a time."

That next match is most likely this coming Wednesday, but it will definitely be in Boynton as Madison County (8-7-1) will come to Catoosa County to take on the Lady Generals in the second round. The Red Raiders, the No. 4 seed from Region 8, advanced with a 4-2 victory over Region 5 champion Luella on Wednesday.

Heritage's win was one of three for Region 7 in the opening round. Region champion Northwest Whitfield routed Region 6 No. 4 seed Mays by an 11-0 count, while No. 3 seeded Southeast Whitfield hung on for a 2-1 victory at Region 6 runner-up Druid Hills.

The Ridgeland Lady Panthers, making their first state playoff appearance since 1998, dropped a 10-0 decision at Region 6 champion and top-ranked Marist. Keeper Riley McBee had 21 saves for Ridgeland, who ended one of its best seasons in recent memory with a 6-7-1 overall record.

Scott Herpst is sports editor for the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga., and Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga.

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