CONYERS - The Heritage boys soccer team took care of business in the opening round of the Region 8-AAAA Tournament, beating Cedar Shoals and the bad weather on Friday at Evans Memorial Stadium.
Corey Rodgers tallied a hat trick and Tyler Peoples chipped in two goals as the Patriots (11-4) earned a Class AAAA state tournament berth and advanced to the Region 8-AAAA semifinals with an 8-3 romp over the Jaguars (9-5-1).
The game was stopped by lightning with 4:07 left in the contest and subsequently was called by the referee.
"It was very slippery out there. Like I told their keeper and their coach, it was unlucky on who slipped first and who slipped the most out there," Heritage boys coach Mike Beshiri said. "Our guys knew they just had to jockey (around), give them space until they messed up and then take the ball. They knew the chips were down, and they had to play."
Although Heritage's next opponent is unknown right now because the Alcovy-Habersham Central was called off and rescheduled for Tuesday, the Patriots do know who they'll be playing next Friday.
Beshiri is planning on make a trip to Mount Airy on Friday to face the Raiders, who are the defending Region 8-AAAA champions. Heritage dropped a 1-0 decision at Habersham Central back in mid-February.
"Now we'll be going to Habersham on Friday," Beshiri said.
Rodgers scored from deep in the box 6:50 into the game to give the Patriots an early 1-0 lead. John Hiner scored on a breakaway with 5:05 left for a 2-0 advantage in a first half that featured a couple quick downpours and threatening skies.
In the second half, Heritage's Tyler Peoples scored off an assist from Hiner at 4:56, and, just 42 seconds later, Rodgers notched his second goal, pushing the Patriots out to a 4-0 lead.
However, Cedar Shoals rallied with two goals 1:19 apart to cut the Heritage lead to 4-2 with 21:45 left in the contest.
But Rodgers opened up the floodgates with his third goal for the Patriots with only 10:13 left.
Peoples added his second goal just 37 seconds later, followed by Morris Williams and Tim Cook.
The Jaguars added the final goal with 4:40 left to play.
Jeff Gillespie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.