Another season, another trip to the state playoffs for the Hardaway boys soccer team.
Hardaway scored four times in the first 18 minutes and rolled to a 4-0 win over Thomas County Central Tuesday afternoon at Woodruff Farm in the opening round of the Region 1-AAAA playoffs, punching the Golden Hawks' ticket to the state playoffs for the 18th time in the last 19 years.
"I feel like we're playing good soccer right now," said Hardaway head coach Rick Iden, whose team is back in the state playoffs after missing out in 2011. "We didn't get off to a slow start today. We put them in a bad situation early and made them have to play catch-up. What we talked about the past couple of days is getting on teams earlier and we did that today."
Hardaway will now play either Northside or Bainbridge in the region semifinals Friday. If Northside defeated Bainbridge in Bainbridge Tuesday night, the match will be at Woodruff Farm. However, if the Bearcats won, Hardaway will be hitting the road to play at Bainbridge. Results of the Northside-Bainbridge match were unavailable at press time.
Tito Echevarria got the scoring going early for the Golden Hawks (11-2-2), taking a pass from Tony Redmond and beating Thomas County Central keeper Keshad Peake with a shot in the lower right corner of the net to put Hardaway up 1-0 in the fifth minute.
Seven minutes later, freshmen Hector Zamudio and Kyron Carstien hooked up to give Hardaway a 2-0 lead. Zamudio sent a cross into the left side of the penalty area where Carstien won the ball, turned and put a shot into the back of the net to widen the Golden Hawks' advantage.
Hardaway's starting goalie, David Scott, got in on the offensive fun in the 17th minute. After stopping an offensive attack by the Yellow Jackets, Scott unleashed a booming goal kick that bounced over the Thomas County Central defenders right to Echevarria, who volleyed a shot past Peake into the goal to make it 3-0.
The Golden Hawks' last goal came just a minute later, when Redmond scored off a cross by Joseph de Brabant, putting Hardaway in the driver's seat with a 4-0 lead less than halfway through the first half.
Thomas County (5-5-2) had the run of play for most of the second half and were only outshot 12-11 for the match, but Hardaway's defense stood tall and Scott made six saves to help the Golden Hawks post their ninth shutout of the season.
Tuesday at Woodruff Farm
Goals--Hardaway: Tito Echevarria 2, Kryon Carstein, Tony Redmond. Assists--Hardaway: Redmond, Hector Zamudio, David Scott, Jospeh deBrabant. Goalies--Hardaway: Scott 6; Thomas Co. Central: Keshad Peake 4. Records--Hardaway 11-2-2, Thomas Co. Central 5-5-2. Next: Hardaway vs. Northside/Bainbridge winner on Friday.