Lady Dogs make history
By Greg Sullivan
As the final moments ticked away on the game clock Friday night it was still as if it hadn't settled in for the Lady Dogs. They had done it, winning the first girls state playoff game in the history of their soccer program.
"It's sort of not real right now," said Lady Dogs' Head Coach Jessica Ward, all-smiles and walking off the field with her players. "They played really incredible. They earned it."
The team had already done what they had never done before by winning their region to host Jefferson County for the first round of state playoffs. Then the true milestone was achieved--they got a 3-1 victory.
Things didn't look good early for the team. They gave up a goal in the opening minutes as the Lady Warriors moved ahead 1-0 early on the Lady Dogs, but a goal from Morgan County senior Mandi Smith later in the first half would even things up and the team quickly regained composure.
"We always play better when it's close so when I made that goal it let us know we could play with this team," Smith said.
And play better the team did, shutting down the Jefferson County attack for the remainder of the game.
Jefferson County players are probably still having nightmares of Taran Schultz charging toward their goal in the open field.
Breaking open the half-time 1-1 tie, Schultz got two downfield goals within just over a minute of each-other. One with 35:30 left in the game and one with 34:20 remaining.
Those scores were all Morgan County would need to seal up the win.
"I felt like we had a lot more confidence after those [goals]," Schultz said. "And I knew if we could keep shutting them down we'd win."
The majority of the second half was spent around the Jefferson County goal, as the Lady Dogs remained on the offensive to fend off any possible threat of a late comeback.
Then, as the clock ticked down to zero, players met in the area between midfield and the home bench. Players hugged, coaches joined in the celebration and the crowd stood on its feet.
As special as the monumental win was for the players, it was tasted especially sweet for the team's seniors.
"It's surreal," said Smith. "I've been working really hard the last four years so it's really nice to go on."
As they go on, though, the Lady Dogs won't have to go very far as they enter unchartered playoff territory in the familiar surroundings of their home field.
The Lady Dogs host 11th-ranked Calvary Day School from Savannah Wednesday, April 30 at 5:30 p.m. at Bill Corry Stadium.
Calvary Day (12-3) is coming off a big win of their own. They went on the road and handed Thomasville a 7-0 loss last week.