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Heritage boys soccer ends region season perfect

The Heritage boys soccer team had already clinched the program's first region title in nearly a decade, but Tuesday in Conyers, the Patriots took it a step further.

Mauricio Reyes scored two goals and assisted on another and Heritage defeated Cedar Shoals 5-2 at Evans Memorial Stadium to finish Region 8-AAAA play at 10-0.

After playing two nonregion games to close the regular season, Heritage (11-3-2) will open the Class AAAA state playoffs as a No. 1 seed for the first time since the 2003 region title-winning team.

"10-0. I can't say any more than that. I'm proud of them," Heritage coach Brandon Stewart said. "Most fun I've had since I've been here."

There was plenty to smile about as Heritage led 3-0 over the visitors from Athens, but Cedar fought back. With 12:56 left in the second half, Jorge Valdez found Alexis Reyes for a goal, and 5 minutes later Hex Gomez roped a goal from 20 yards out to make it a 3-2 game with 7:20 to play.

"We gave up some goals (but) I never was worried," said Stewart.

The coach's confidence could've come from the fact that he has Reyes, one of the finest players in the region, on his roster. The senior forward was stymied by Cedar keeper Josue Ruiz on a shot with 8:52 left, but came right back three minutes later with a goal off a rebound to put Heritage up 4-2. Reyes had another shot saved, but Andre Deas corralled the rebound and scored for a three-goal cushion.

"We've got one more component (to improve upon), that's the final third, and finishing," Stewart said. "We're not quite there yet."

Heritage looked to be in control through 40 minutes, going up 3-0 at halftime thanks to goals by Reyes, Gustavo Martinez and Joseph Switay's header that found the back of the net with six seconds left in the opening half.