The Patriots did it again. This time it didn't take an extra period and/or penalty kicks to decide the game. In the second round at home, Heritage soccer defeated Richmond Academy 6-0 to advance to the elite eight where the Patriots will travel to play Allatoona on Saturday night 7:30 p.m.
"We had a fantastic week from the last playoff game and kind of getting over the hump. The training week was fantastic. You could see it out there [Wednesday]. Lots of moving the ball quickly, finishing, executing the game plan that we had," Brandon Stewart, Patriots' head coach, said.
Stewart added that getting star player Andre Deas back helped the team a lot with the way he opens things up for other players, but he says the team played extremely well overall especially in the first half.
"Anytime they tried to get anything forward, we countered and just punished them, man. My guys were finishing goals and creating chances," Stewart said.
Stewart, who has been waiting for his team to play a full 80 minutes of exceptional soccer all season, says the team cranked up their play to about 75/80 percent in the first half when they took a 3-0 lead that could've been more had Richmond Academy's goalkeeper not made three incredible saves.
"If we could maybe do that on Saturday we can really start talking contention, but there's still eight teams left in it, man, and any eight of ‘em can win," Stewart said.
Stewart acknowledged that of the eight teams left, he believes Dalton is a notch above everyone else. He added that the team is trending in the right direction and he wants to hit that crest of the waves they continue to fight their way to a possible state championship.
"The farther you go, the higher the stakes are," Stewart said, "so are the goals. As you move along you're not gonna get 10 or 12 chances you may get five or six or three or four. You're playing a team that's better than you, you've got to be able to bury those chances. So the further you move along the more important every aspect is. We're getting there."
Unfortunately, the Patriots might not have their full roster on Saturday. Center defensive midfielder Steven Bishop was injured in HEritage's second round matchup and Stewart says that some of his players have to work to put food on their table, so they might miss the game.
"Even though we're deeper than we were last year that Saturday date kind of hurts us," Stewart said.
"I need my squad, but you get a real understanding of priority. As important as all these things are, I would never ask a player to take food off their table, ever," he added.
Stewart and co. will need all of the support from Patriot nation as they look to reach the final four with a win on Saturday.