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Title within reach
Lady 'Noles top Heritage; Salem boys lose in PKs

CONYERS - Salem's soccer squads collected a split with the competition Friday night at Reid Memorial Stadium in the second round of the Region 8-AAAA tournament.

The Salem girls captured a 3-0 win over Heritage in the opener, while the Salem boys were edged 4-3 in penalty kicks after a 2-2 tie with Dacula in the nightcap.

GIRLS

Salem 3, Heritage 0

The Salem girls kicked off the twin bill against Heritage in a rematch of an earlier showdown.

This time, the Lady Seminoles found similar results, topping the Lady Patriots by a 3-0 margin.

Brittany Beaumont led the offensive charge with two goals and an assist.

The win advances Salem to the championship game of the region tournament, which is scheduled for Tuesday at Reid against Loganville. The Lady Red Devils defeated Dacula 3-2 in the other semifinal game Friday. Heritage faces Dacula on the road Tuesday in the consolation game. All four teams have already qualified for state.

Salem girls coach Heather Richardson said she was pleased with the way her team came out.

"We played well. We came out strong," she said. "The first goal was exactly what I wanted to do. We wanted to switch fields and get behind the defense wide."

The goal came with 26 minutes left until halftime off an assist from Beaumont to Brittany Miller.

Salem went up 2-0 with 5:50 left until the break off Beaumont's first goal of the game. Beaumont tacked on her second score in the second half off an assist from Jordan Young with 9:52 left to play.

"I thought this was one of her best games," Richardson said of Beaumont.

Despite losing to Salem by one more goal than they did last time, Heritage girls coach Chad Suddeth said he liked what he saw out of his players.

"I think we played a lot better than we did the last time against Salem. That's progress, and that's all I can ask for," he said. "Salem is just better than us this year."

BOYS

Dacula 2, Salem 2, Dacula wins 4-3 in PKs

Salem's soccer team saw its shot at playing for a region championship and a No. 1 seed in the state playoffs crumble in the form of a loss to the Falcons in penalty kicks.

Salem drew first blood in the contest, going up 1-0 with 24:43 left until halftime off a goal by Jonathan Ryon.

However, Dacula's Luis Huertas tied it up with 8:36 left in the half.

Salem did regain the lead by the break as Colin Easterbrook drove home a shot with 1:34 left in the half.

Dacula tied it up again with 26:19 left in the game, and that score remained through the rest of regulation and two five-minute overtime periods.

In penalty kicks, Salem's Blake Whitson gave the Seminoles the early advantage, but Dacula also connected on the PK, making it 1-1.

After Easterbrook put Salem back up 2-1, Salem goalkeeper Trent Carpenter made a great save to deflect Dacula's shot and keep Salem ahead by one goal.

However, Dacula goalkeeper Bryan Alfonzo blocked the next two Salem shots.

Dacula then connected on its last three shots to seal the win for the Falcons.

Salem will play again Tuesday against Heritage in the consolation game to determine both seedings in the state playoffs.

Brandon Evans can be reached at brandon.evans@rockdalecitizen.com.