South Stokes girls soccer have gone where no other team in school history have on Tuesday evening, a fourth round berth in the 1A NCHSSA state playoffs with a convincing 6-2 victory over number seven seeded Polk County in Walnut Cove.
“We got off to a fast start and played aggressive,” said Saura coach Danny Bowman. “I was very pleased with how we played. We were able to spread the field and play flag to flag. Our plan was to shoot low and hard because their goalie was so tall. We felt like she wouldn’t be able to get to those shots and we were right.”
Freshman Evan O’Leary put the Sauras on the board with a penalty shot after getting pushed from behind inside the box three minutes into the contest.
After O’Leary’s goal, the next 20 minutes became a defensive battle between two of the top teams in the state. A rebound shot from Lilly Weaver to Madison Greene with 18:35 on the clock gave the home team a 2-0 advantage. Less than four minutes later, Savannah Nelson scored on an assist from O’Leary and with 4:09 left before the half. Greene tallied her second goal of the game for a 4-0 edge. The Wolverines scored a late goal in the first half after their coach received a red card and was dismissed for the remainder of the game. South led 4-1 at the half.
“I told the girls at halftime that we had to protect the middle,” Bowman said. “We also needed to continue our aggressive play and get after any loose balls. I felt we did that.”
The first 13 minutes of the second half went scoreless until O’Leary’s attempt from the right side was blocked by the goal keeper, but another rebound put back by Hannah Fischer put the Sauras up 5-1.
Polk County quickly responded with a goal less than 50 seconds later, but Greene’s hat trick score on an assist from Rhiannon Dunlap from the right side finished the scoring for both teams with 18:17 left in the game.
Greene led the team with three goals, while O’Leary added one score and three assists. The Sauras outshot the Wolverines 22-10 with goalie Summer Coates recording nine saves.
On Saturday, South defeated Mountain Island Charter 6-1 in the second round. Greene added four goals and an assist to lead her team, while Coates had 12 saves.
The Sauras improved to 14-5 on the year and will host number three seed Lincoln Charter (19-1-1) on Saturday. The time is yet to be determined.
“We are playing one game at a time and see where it takes us,” Bowman added with a smile.
Robert Money can be reached at 336-749-1193.