CONYERS - The Lady Patriots advanced to the second round of the Class AAAA soccer playoffs with a 3-0 win over Dalton, while the boys will stay home losing 2-0 to Hillgrove in Wednesday's doubleheader.
The EurosportScoreboard.com No. 7-ranked Heritage girls (10-4-4) will next face No. 1 Marist (17-1) on the road Tuesday.
"We've played elite teams all season long, and we're ready for the challenge," said Heritage coach Chad Suddeth. "It's ironic that we match up with them again. This time it's a little deeper in the tournament, but we're looking forward to it."
Marist, who won the Class AAAA state championship last year, beat Heritage 4-1 in the opening round of the playoffs last season.
Heritage 3, Dalton 0
Heritage started the game on the attack only to get rejected by the Lady Catamounts' (12-5-1) defense. However, every time the Lady Patriots went on the attack, they finished deeper in Dalton territory.
"I knew the girls would play out of it," Suddeth said. "They didn't have their best touch at first. But I knew if we would just be patient they would play their way through it. We started combining some passes and connecting some things."
The Lady Patriots' Michelle Borg finally broke through the defense, scoring in the 17th minute by burying a bomb off a rebound.
Heritage tried to keep Dalton down after that by attempting to extend its lead with another quick score.
But the longer they played without a score, the more Dalton got into the game.
That all changed when Shealy Kulp proved her desire to put the ball in the net by knocking the ball away from Dalton keeper Julie Parham and scoring in an empty goal with 9:31 left in the first half.
The Lady Catamounts tried to score, but the Heritage defense refused to give top scorer Rachel Czyz a chance to touch the ball.
"We knew she was their main threat, and Lindsey (Sutton) did a fantastic job of shutting her down," Suddeth said. "We knew if we shut her out and made someone else beat us, we would increase our probability for success."
After Nadia Bryan made it 3-0 19 minutes into the second half, Dalton had its best chance to score. But a diving stop by junior keeper Melissa Drish kept the shutout alive.
"I was trying to see my way through the players and was hoping to get myself in the right position to make the play," Drish said. "It's important to keep the shutout. I thought it was important that I get to that ball."
Hillgrove 2, Heritage 0
The No. 8 Hawks (14-3-1) tried to make quick work of Heritage (10-4), staying on the attack early in the game.
But the longer the Patriots kept them off the board, the more confident they played.
In hopes of being the first to gain the edge after a scoreless first half, Heritage began playing with a strong offensive presence, keeping its defensive players to a minimum, a strategy that backfired.
"We were pushing forward and got a little caught in transition," Heritage boys coach Brandon Stewart said. "We haven't scored a whole lot of goals throughout the year and had to push a little earlier than I would have like to."
The Hawks' Juan Carlos Pacheco provided the first goal of the game with a shot into the far upper corner of the frame from the top of the box with 30:44 remaining.
Heritage had several opportunities to tie the game but was unable to capitalize on them.
Hillgrove put the game away when Chase Peterson scored with five minutes left to play.
Manny Fils can be reached at email@example.com.