Soccer goalies have a tough life.
People are always trying to invade their personal spece so they can score goals and in the process of trying to keep shots out, things often get physical with opposing players.
Perhaps that's why Columbus girls soccer coach Russell Oliver listed toughness -- both physical and mental -- as one of the top characteristics of his starting goalie, junior Anna Scogin.
"Anna prides herself on being tough in goal and ending each match with a clean sheet," said Oliver, whose team takes on No. 6 Veterans (15-3-1) in the Class AAAA state semifinals tonight at 7 p.m. at Perry High School. "She has the mentality that it's her goal and that people are going to have to beat her to score."
Scogin said plain-old stubborness is a big reason why she excels in goal.
"I'm not trying to be cocky or stuck up when I say this, but I'm stubborn," said Scogin, who has helped the Blue Devils post 13 shutouts in 20 matches this season. "I have the mindset that the goal is my house and that's where I'm most comfortable. I take a lot of pride in ending each match with a clean sheet and if I don't, then I'm really hard on myself and I look at what I could've done better to keep that goal from going in,"
Scogin, who has verbally committed to Truett-McConnell College, has been a full-time goalie for about seven years, and Oliver said she has helped keep Columbus close in some matches where the Blue Devils' offense has struggled to get going.
"Anna's had to make some big saves for us this season," said Oliver of the 5-foot-4 Scogin. "She did (in the second round of the playoffs) against Grady and also against Woodward Academy (late in the regular season). Her making saves and us not allowing goals lets us play our game. We haven't had to come back that often and she's a big reason why."
The third-ranked Blue Devils (15-5) have won four straight matches and six of their last seven, mostly against top-notch competition. Eight of Columbus' non-region foes this year made the state quarterfinals and six of those eight will be playing in the state semifinals today.
One of those six teams is Veterans, which Columbus beat, 4-3, in overtime in Kathleen back on March 5. In that match, the Warhawks led 3-0 in the second half, but Columbus got a penalty kick, another goal and scored on a late corner kick to force overtime. In extra time, Ivey Burbrink scored for the Blue Devils to allow them to escape with the win.
"Yes, we beat Veterans, but we beat them when it didn't mean anything," said Oliver. "They're a good team and they've obviously done the right things to get to the state semifinals. We know if we mess up now, our season is over. We don't want our season to end now. We want it to end Friday (in the state championship match)."
A win would put Columbus in the state championship match for the second straight season. The final is scheduled for Friday at 5 p.m. at either Kennesaw State or the University of West Georgia in Carrollton, Ga.
Scogin said she and her team are perfectly capable of making it back to the state finals, but they have to make sure to take care of business today.
"We know them and they know us," said Scogin. "We weren't at our best when we played them earlier in the year, but we know we're going to need to show up and play well if we want to win. We have to keep our heads cool. When we played them the first time, we let their fans get into our heads and that's not a good situation. Now we know we just have to play our game."
As for who the Columbus/Veterans winner will play, No. 1 Marist (20-0-1) and No. 2 Heritage-Catoosa (20-0) play in the other semifinal today at Heritage at 5 p.m.