GAINESVILLE - The early spring sun wasn't the only thing scorching Thursday afternoon in Gainesville. The North Hall girls soccer team was just as hot.
Tess Patten scored four goals and the Trojans defense was its usual, stingy self in North Hall's 6-0 win over Eastside in a Class AAA first-round playoff game.
North Hall, the region 7-AAA champion, jumped out early with a pair of goals eighteen seconds apart in the first half. First, Patten intercepted a pass and ripped a shot past Eastside goalkeeper Kayla Jones with 31:18 left to put North Hall (14-3) up 1-0. With 31:00 to play, Allie Wright made a nifty move and scored to make it a 2-0 lead.
"It was important," Patten said of the early goals.
"With the heat the way it was, those first two goals were a little bit of a breather," North Hall coach Nathan Matthews said. "Kind of got us a little bit of a cushion."
The Trojans kept attacking. In the 36th minute, Ali Souther found the net to put North Hall ahead 3-0 and all but seal the first-round win just before halftime.
Just 1:36 into the second half, Patten scored again off a nice pass from Julia Matthews and added a third goal in the 10th minute off a feed from Wright to extend the lead to 5-0. Patten put the finishing touches on the victory with her fourth goal in the 34th minute.
Meanwhile, North Hall's defense, which had allowed 15 goals in its 16 regular season games, was dominant again. Eastside (10-5), the No. 4 seed out of Region 8-AAA, didn't record a shot on goal in the first half and only managed three shots, two from Amber Lafond, in the second half.
"We kept them away from the goal," Patten said. "We talked (during the game); we tried to not let them score as much as possible."
Eastside coach Libba Wilcox wasn't happy with the outcome, but was more than satisfied with the Eagles' season.
"I think we didn't penetrate enough," Wilcox said. "(But) the girls came together ... everything we worked for (in 2009) came into play."
Kurt Aschermann Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.