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Soccer splitsville
Heritage girls advance, boys fall in soccer playoffs
Heritage sophomore Shea Smith (22) fights for posession during the Lady Patriots' 3-0 victory in the opening round of the state playoffs Wednesday. Heritage travels to Marist to take on the defending Class AAAA champs Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. - photo by Anthony Banks/The Rockdale News
Postseason soccer separates the good teams from the great and the No. 2 seed Heritage Lady Patriots moved one step closer to that level after defeating No. 3 seed Dalton 3-0 Wednesday in the first round of the Class AAAA Georgia High School Association Girls Soccer State Tournament.

Heritage, which is ranked seventh in the Class AAAA polls, improved its record to 10-4-4 and advances for a second-round date on the road against No. 1 ranked and defending state champions Marist on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

"We showed lots of improvement coming off of a tough loss at the end of the regular season (3-2 versus Union Grove). I'm happy the way we performed today (Wednesday)," said Heritage girls' head coach Chad Sudduth. "We have a match with Marist and it's a challenge we're looking forward to. We're not going to back away. We played with elite teams before and we're going to give it our best shot."

Sophomore Michelle Borg set the tone for the day when she netted the opening goal with 23:23 remaining in the first half and Heritage led 1-0.

Shealy Kulp later came through with a goal with 6:31 on the clock to give her squad a comfortable 2-0 lead, which stood as the halftime score.
Heritage's Nadia Bryan posted one goal with 21:12 left in the second half, which put the game out of reach for Dalton.

Heritage's defense created a lot of obstacles for Dalton thanks largely in part to junior goalkeeper Melissa Drish. Drish spent most of the afternoon idle at the net, but when the ball came her way, she crushed the hopes of Dalton with her immovable goal tending skills.

"It's important to come out strong and its good we started with a shutout," said Drish. "It's a good start to get this mindset. We're playing the defending state champs in the second round and we really need good defense."

Hillgrove 2, Heritage 0

In the nightcap, the No. 2 seeded Patriots were unable to build on the momentum set by their female counterparts as they fell 2-0 versus No. 3 seed and eighth-ranked (Class AAAA) Hillgrove in the first round of the Class AAAA GHSA Boys Soccer State Tournament.

The loss snapped Heritage's eight-game winning streak, eliminated the squad from the playoffs and dropped its record to 10-4.

Hillgrove and Heritage went back and forth in a tug of war battle where scoring came at a premium.

The game remained scoreless at the half and midway through the second half until Juan Pacheco broke through Heritage's defensive alignment to put Hillgrove on top 1-0.

Then with 5:29 on the clock, Chase Peterson sealed Heritage's fate and thus eliminated the Patriots from the playoffs with a goal for the game's final score.

"We broke down in containment and that led to the first goal. The second one was because we were trying to push for an equalizer. Ultimately, (Juan) Pacheco hurt us," said Heritage boys' head coach Brandon Stewart.