WINDER - After a brief stint outside of the Class AAAA playoffs, the Heritage girls soccer team is headed back to state.
The Lady Patriots (13-2) earned a state berth with a 1-0 win over Winder-Barrow on Tuesday at W. Clair Harris Stadium in the first round of the Region 8-AAAA playoffs.
The Lady Patriots received one goal from Whitney Adkins off an assist from Michelle Borg with 15:53 left in the first half. That was all Heritage needed on a night defense ruled the soccer field.
The Lady Patriots outshot Winder-Barrow in both halves, notching 11 shots on goal to Winder's six.
Still, it took a sensational offensive play from the Lady Patriots to break through Winder's defense and notch the only score of the night.
Borg took a pass down the line and played a great ball to the front of the box, where a charging Adkins muscled a shot past Winder goalkeeper Katie Floyd.
"Borg hustled to get to that ball, and Whitney made a backside cut and crashed the net," Heritage coach Chad Suddeth said.
Suddeth said he expected a very tough matchup, and that's exactly what he got.
"Winder's high pressure and physical play was definitely a factor," he said. "Still, we were able to put a few good combinations together. We haven't really seen any action since last Thursday because of Spring Break."
Suddeth gave a great deal of credit to his defense for the win.
"Shutouts are always good, and Meredith Wilson and Janet VanHeest did a fabulous job," he said.
With the win, the Lady Patriots are back in the state playoffs after missing the postseason last year.
"This is where Heritage soccer belongs," Suddeth said.
The Lady Patriots now advance to play the winner of Salem and Cedar Shoals, who play tonight at Reid Memorial Stadium.
Both the Lady Patriots and Lady Seminoles were slated to play in their respective region playoff games last Friday, but both games were canceled due to inclement weather.
Brandon Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.