CONYERS - In what turned out to be her final game at Salem, senior keeper Kellianne Collins was nothing short of brilliant against Marist.
The Lady War Eagles had a 19-4 advantage in shots on goal, but Collins kept the game scoreless until the final minute with nine saves.
In fact, the Salem senior had quite a busy first half with six saves, including a spectacular diving stop on Shannon Fitzpatrick's low shot ticketed for inside the near post with 13:30 to play.
"She definitely kept us in the game a number of times with great saves," Salem coach Heather Richardson said. "When they had free kicks, she was setting up walls and keeping us organized. She was absolutely on her toes tonight. She knew this was a big game and she was ready for it."
In the second half, most of Marist's 10 shots were off the mark. Still, Collins appeared to have each one covered.
Gates injury slows Salem
Salem sophomore Taylor Gates suffered a pulled groin in the second half, taking some steam out of the Lady Seminoles' offensive attack.
Richardson pulled Gates for several minutes, so she could get some sideline attention from Rockdale County Public Schools trainer Kechia Seabrooks.
Gates returned, but it was apparent that her mobility was limited by the injury. Richardson moved Gates up front on offense and pulled Brittany Beaumont back to center midfield.
"In the middle of the second half, I think she pulled her groin a little," Richardson said. "I pulled her out for a while. I don't think she was 100 percent the rest of the game."
The Lady Seminoles are now 0-4 in state semifinal games.
Salem made three trips to the semifinals under its first coach, Salem athletics director Jim McBrayer, losing in 1995, 1996 and 2003.
"None of those teams really had a chance like this one did tonight," McBrayer said. "We knew we were in trouble when we got to the semifinals with those teams. But this team was right there step-for-step with Marist and had a chance."
McBrayer was also pleased with the large crowd estimated somewhere between 600 and 700 fans, easily the largest of the season for Salem soccer.
"We had 200 against Starr's Mill on Saturday, and that was our biggest of the season," he said. "This one easily trumped that one."
Salem's "blackout" was also a success with a large and boisterous student section cheering on the Lady Seminoles.
"The students did a great job tonight. It was a wonderful atmosphere," McBrayer said.
Salem is just the second team to hold Marist to one goal in a game this season, joining Woodward Academy, one of the other Class AAAA semifinalists.
The Lady War Eagles also beat Woodward 1-0.
Marist has surrendered only five goals in 18 games this season, outscoring its opponents 98-5.
Jeff Gillespie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.