CONYERS - The Salem girls soccer team is going back to the Class AAAA quarterfinals.
Junior Jordan Young scored twice and junior Brittany Beaumont added the other goal as the No. 5-ranked Lady Seminoles (15-2-1) chalked up a 3-0 victory over Chapel Hill (11-6-1) in the second round of the Class AAAA state tournament Wednesday at Reid Memorial Stadium.
"I'm very excited about going back to the quarterfinals. The girls should be so proud of their accomplishment," Salem coach Heather Richardson said. "It's a big testament to how hard they've worked this season.
"I thought we really pulled it together tonight. We built off last week. I thought the second half was great. We really moved the ball well, we won the 50-50 balls, we really got after it."
From the start of the game, Salem's relentless offensive pressure set up numerous good scoring chances in the first half.
But the key play of the first half for the Lady Seminoles wasn't a goal. In fact, it came at the other end of the field.
Senior keeper Kellianne Collins, who didn't see much work in Salem's 3-0 victory over North Springs in the opening round of the playoffs, made a spectacular save, diving to her left to stop Chapel Hill's Malikah Mose deep in the box.
"It don't know if it was at the beginning or in the middle of the first half, but Kellianne made an unbelievable save that probably kept the game from turning bad for us," Richardson said. "If they would have scored on that, I don't know what would have happened. It could have been a totally different game."
Young finally gave Salem some breathing room late in the first half, tracking down a Taylor Gates pass in the middle, walking in on the Chapel Hill goalie and burying her shot with 5:50 left until halftime.
In the second half, the Lady Seminoles came out flying.
Caitlyn Cofer, Young, Beaumont and Gates all had quality scoring chances in the first 20 minutes. Cofer's was the best off a cross at the near post.
With Salem wearing down Chapel Hill's defense, Young struck for her second goal off a Cofer feed with 19:59 left in the contest.
And then, Beaumont scored 3:35 later deep in the box off a slick pass from Ashley Miller.
"We talked about being patient (on offense) at halftime," Richardson said. "I think we were a little worried because we hadn't scored yet. It was making us a little nervous. We were playing just real uptight. Finally, after we scored, we were able to settle down a little bit.
"We put a lot of pressure on them in the second half. I think it made a big difference. We were playing hard with a lot of intensity."
Truth is, Salem didn't need the insurance on the scoreboard.
The Lady Seminoles' back line of Brittany Whitson, Ashley Parker and Emily Boggus totally shut down Chapel Hill's attack.
The Lady Panthers managed just one shot in the second half, and Collins made the easy save with just 9:29 left in the game.
Salem will host the winner of Starr's Mill-Lakeside DeKalb in the quarterfinals Saturday at Reid. The last time the Lady Seminoles advanced to the quarterfinals was 2005.
Jeff Gillespie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.