CONYERS - The action was fast, but the field was wet Friday night at Reid Memorial Stadium as Salem and Clarke Central battled each other and the weather in a first-round game of the Area 8-AAAA playoffs.
With both the Salem boys and girls soccer teams scheduled to compete, the Salem boys (11-2-1) kicked off the doubleheader with a 3-1 win over Clarke Central.
The Salem girls took an early 1-0 lead in their game against Cedar Shoals, but the game was delayed and eventually canceled due to inclement weather.
The first half of the Salem boys game was tightly contested as Salem managed just a 1-0 advantage by the break. The goal came off a pass from Nate Pulliam to Daniel Aguilar who tapped it past the Clarke Central goalkeeper for a 1-0 lead with 26:24 left until the break.
Clarke tied it up 1-1 in the second half, scoring with 31:55 left in the game. However, Salem answered with two more scores to claim a 3-1 win.
Salem's second goal of the game came off the foot of Colin Easterbrook with 27:13 left to play. The final goal of the contest came off a pass from Jonathan Ryon to Blake Whitson who nailed it home with 17:20 remaining.
Salem boys coach Sean DeWeese said Clarke Central gave his team just the kind of matchup he was expecting.
"I knew it was going to be a tough matchup. They (Clarke) came out to win," he said. "We had a one-goal cushion early and I think the guys kind of got lazy. They didn't give up, but they were less intense, and that's all it takes against a team like Clarke. After Clarke tied it up, the guys stepped it back it up. They started to be more aggressive and were able to get those last two goals."
With the win, Salem advances to play the winner of Dacula and Loganville next Friday at Reid. The Seminoles also locked up a trip to the Class AAAA state tournament.
The Salem girls got off to a quick start in their game, taking a 1-0 lead in the first five minutes of the game off a score by Jordan Young.
However, after several lightning strikes, the game was stopped and eventually canceled. The game has been tentatively rescheduled for Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at Reid.
Brandon Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.