Salem girls to maintain physical play
Lady 'Noles to travel 4 hours for today's playoff matchup

CONYERS - The Lady Seminoles have to be careful not to overlook Thomas County Central's girls soccer team as they travel to Thomasville to play in the Class AAAA quarterfinals at 5:30 p.m. today.

The Lady Yellow Jackets have an overall record of 12-2-1 with 10 shutouts and six mercy-rule wins.

Salem goes into the match with an overall record of 17-3 including 11 shutouts and five mercy-rule wins

However, Thomas County Central's wins have not come against the toughest of opponents.

"They've played teams that aren't very strong," said Heather Cheek, coach of the Class AAAA No. 3-ranked Salem girls. "They have a lot of mercy-rule games but they've played those teams twice, like Americus-Sumter (3-10). They ended up playing Lee County (9-4-1) three times. That's really amazing to me. Either they don't have that many teams to play or they don't want to travel far. The competition in metro Atlanta is a lot different than it is in south Georgia."

But the Lady Yellow Jackets can be dangerous, having scored 94 goals while allowing 14.

Thomas County Central's biggest offensive threats will come from Taylor Benton and Ivey Singletary.

Benton, a junior, was Region 1-AAAA Player of the Year last season while Singletary accounted for 36 of the team's 122 goals in 2008.

Though untested, Thomas County Central likes to play a physical-style match, something that caught Salem somewhat off guard against Northgate in the second round of the playoffs.

"They're going to be a physical team and they have a couple of good players that have scored the majority of their goals or provided assists," Cheek said. "The girls know that they have to come out playing physically. They're going to come out playing physically but being cautious. They don't want to get hurt."

Even though the Salem girls have practiced and done everything they can to get ready, the one thing they cannot practice for is a four-hour bus ride.

"We're going to get there with enough time to warm up. If anything, the girls being able to sit on the bus and rest and take a nap, maybe, may help them be more rested for the game than the kids down there that have had to be in school all day and didn't get that rest," Cheek said. "But then again, they may be too rested. You just never know.

"We'll bring a good game to them because the girls are not exactly happy that they have to travel that far for a game."