CONYERS - The Salem girls soccer team is back in familiar territory. Following consecutive 2-1 victories in the state playoffs, the eurosportscoreboard No. 3 Lady Seminoles return to the semifinals against No. 2 Whitewater with memories of last season's heart-breaking 1-0 loss to Marist fresh on their minds.
The game is set for 6 p.m. today at Seminole Stadium.
"They know that they don't want that to happen again," Salem coach Heather Cheek said. "And they do want to win this game so that they have the possibility to play Marist again in the finals. I don't want to say revenge (is on their minds); but have a rematch."
First things first: Take down a confident Whitewater team that has lost just once in 2009 and had its own 1-0 setback in last year's playoffs to think about. Erin Emerson and Jenni Lovelace each had two goals in the Wildcats' 5-1 win over Glynn Academy in the quarterfinals, and the offense averages nearly six goals per game.
"We know they're going to have some really good players," Cheek said of Whitewater. "We know that they're ranked higher both in state overall and in (Class) AAAA. I'm sure that they want the exact same thing that we do."
Both defenses are strong. Whitewater has allowed 10 goals all season, while Salem's defense pitched a shutout in the second half of its 2-1 quarterfinal victory at Thomas County Central. The quintet of Ashley Parker, Emily Boggus, Shelby Boggus, Casey Echols and Brittany Whitson have been phenomenal for a defense that has surrendered six goals during the Seminoles' current 10-game winning streak.
"My defense is really strong," Cheek said. "My defenders are made up of mostly juniors and seniors; they have a lot of experience. They have been in this position before and they know what it takes to get to this point. They're all key defenders."
Cheek's bunch will also be looking for a boost from the home crowd, instituting a "White Out" for the semifinal showdown. It's all geared toward helping the Seminoles get to a place they've never been: the state championship game.
"The girls really want to win the game, they want to go on to the final," Cheek said. "They're going to do everything they can to (win a state championship)."
Kurt Aschermann Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.