CONYERS - It wasn't a masterpiece, but at this time of the year, Salem girls soccer coach Heather Richardson knows the only important thing is winning.
Jordan Young scored twice and Ashley Miller chipped in a goal and an assist as the Lady Seminoles (14-2-1) opened the Class AAAA state playoffs with a 3-0 victory over North Springs (9-6-1) on Wednesday at Reid Memorial Stadium.
"I don't think that was our best game. I think the girls know that, and I think they're beating themselves up a little bit right now mentally," Richardson said. "It's good in a way because they know what they need to do to win in the second round. But you don't want to play your best game in first round of the playoffs. We know we've got a long way to go, and I'm confident that they can beat this mental battle that they had tonight.
"All in all, I was very pleased. I can't say anything bad about coming out of here with a win. I'm very proud of them and I'm very excited about what we have coming up."
Young scored off a Miller assist 1:22 into the first half to give the Lady Seminoles a 1-0 lead.
But Salem struggled to find the continuity it showed in its 3-1 victory over Loganville in the Region 8-AAAA title match.
"We came out strong, which is something I tell them to do every game," Richardson said. "We scored early, but then, for whatever reason, I think were taken aback by the pace of the game. They were an extremely feisty, aggressive team, not a typical four seed. But they're from a tough region.
"We had a lot of trouble connecting on some passes. I could see with what we were trying to do that we knew what we needed to do, and we were working hard like we needed to, but it wasn't falling in place like it does usually."
Salem held a 1-0 advantage at the half, and Miller needed only 52 seconds in the second half to double the lead. The sophomore made a strong run down the right side of the box, took a slick feed from Taylor Gates and scored from a sharp angle.
Young added Salem's final goal with 13:01 left in the contest, stealing the ball from a North Springs defender and then scoring off a breakaway.
Even with its offensive attack out of sync, Salem's defense turned in another strong effort. The Lady Seminoles allowed just one shot on goal and never allowed North Springs to muster a sustained attack. Salem had a 25-1 advantage in shots on goal.
The No. 5-ranked Lady Seminoles will face the Rome-Chapel Hill winner in the second round next Wednesday at Reid Stadium.
Jeff Gillespie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.