CONYERS - Although Salem and Alexander are two of the 16 teams left in the Class AAAA boys soccer state tournament, both Salem coach Sean DeWeese and Alexander coach Chris Small admit they really don't know much about their opponent.
The game will kick off at 7 p.m. today at Alexander High School in Douglasville.
"I really don't know much about them. They haven't played any teams in common with us, so all we can do is look at their record," DeWeese said. "They've really only played schools in their area, so we're kind of going in blind. I'm sure they are a good team because they're in the second round of the state playoffs."
DeWeese said knowing a lot about Alexander is not as important as knowing how his team will play.
"I don't think it's as important in soccer as it is in other sports to know a lot about your opponent. The outcome is usually determined by how your team plays," he said. "Knowing what kind of formation they run or other things like that would help, but if Salem does what it's supposed to do, it really doesn't matter what Alexander does."
Salem advanced to the second round of state by winning an emotional game over St. Pius in penalty kicks.
DeWeese is hoping his team can continue riding its momentum and not stall in the second round.
"I guess there's always a chance of a letdown after such a big win last week. I don't know if they see Alexander as the same kind of threat as St. Pius, so I don't know if they'll come out and play the same way," he said. "I do know that they will do what they need to do to get to the next level.
"The key for us is possession play, keeping the ball moving and working the outside and not try to force balls or just dribble through the middle of the field. We were pretty tired at practice on Thursday because of the St. Pius game, but since then, they've been focused and they're doing what they need to do. We're ready and we're looking forward to it."
Alexander finished first in Region 5-AAAA with a 9-2 record. The Cougars earned a No. 1 seed in the state playoffs and hosted Lakeview-Ft. Oglethorpe, the No. 4 seed from Region 7-AAAA, in the first round and won 4-0.
Small, like DeWeese, said he knows only a few things about his opponent.
"I don't much of anything (about Salem). I know they play in a very competitive region with Heritage, Habersham Central, Dacula and Clarke Central, and they all seem to be very close in competition," he said. "Other than that, I know they have a pretty good tradition at their school."
Small said the key to beating Salem lies in their mental approach to the game.
"At this stage of the game, a lot of it comes down to the mental part of it - who is prepared and who makes the least amount of mistakes. At this point, when you get down to the round of 16, everyone is good and it's hard to know who has the advantage," he said.
Brandon Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What: Class AAAA state soccer tournament, second round
Who: Salem Seminoles vs. Alexander Cougars
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: Alexander High School