CONYERS - It took two freshman to give the Lady Seminoles the goals needed to give Salem its 2-1 win over Northgate in the second round of the Class AAAA soccer playoffs Tuesday at Seminole Field.
Freshman Courtney Hodges tied the game at 1-1 three minutes into the second half.
With four minutes left in regulation, Karlie McCallum put the eurosportscoreboard Class AAAA No. 3-ranked Lady Seminoles (17-3) in the lead when Class AAAA No. 4-ranked Lady Vikings (17-3) keeper Hilary Masdon failed to secure McCallum's first shot allowing the Salem freshman to score the winning goal.
"I was thinking this could be our last game (if I don't make it). Soccer is everything to me. It would be over," she said. "That was it. I knew I had to score that goal. I was like 'I'm making this goal.' That's what I did. I just kept after it.
"I knew that I had a better chance of getting it in the corner rather than hitting it as hard as I could. I figured it would go over the goal if I hit it as hard as I could."
When the game started however it looked as if the Lady Vikings were going to advance as Northgate pushed the Lady Seminoles around beating them to the ball.
"Our girls use a lot of skill more times then being physical. These girls came here being more physical, something we're not used to seeing from a lot of teams," Seminoles coach Heather Cheek said.
Northgate's aggressiveness paid off with an Erica Lowry goal to put the Lady Vikings in the lead with 5:28 left in the first half.
"That goal made the girls really turn up their game because I think a lot of what they were doing was looking ahead for the next game instead of focusing on this game. That goal was what they needed to wake them up. Some readjustments at half also helped them out," Cheek said.
After Cheek made some changes at halftime, the Lady Seminoles came out and became the aggressive ones, standing their ground and forcing the Lady Vikings to back down.
"We realized that we were too defensive-minded in the first half. We were playing a traditional 4-4-2 then we switched it up to a 3-4-3 in the second half," Cheek said. "That's what really helped us get an edge on the offense."
The Lady Seminoles will play in the quarterfinals on the road in Thomasville on Friday against Thomas County Central.
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.