It didn't take long for the Columbus Blue Devils girls soccer team to take control of their Class AAAA first round state playoff match against Stephens County Tuesday night at Columbus State.
Columbus earned its first corner kick in the opening minute of the match, scored its first goal five minutes later and rolled to a 5-0 victory over the Indians that saw Columbus outshoot Stephens County, 36-5.
The third-ranked Blue Devils (13-5) now host No. 8 Grady (12-6) in the second round May 7. Grady advanced by shutting out Northwest Whitfield, 4-0, in Atlanta on Tuesday.
"I think we played really well," said Columbus defender Lane Burbrink, who scored the match's opening goal. "We started out fast and I think we realized that we were going to do well, so that settled us down. In the second half, we were eager to score and it showed in how we played."
Burbrink scored 6:05 into the match on a 20-yard shot from the right wing that went into the upper right corner of the net. By then, the Blue Devils had already outshot Stephens County 6-0 and were setting the tempo for the match.
Columbus kept putting pressure on the Indians' goal, but its shots were off until the 37:04 mark, when Kyla Wright got a throughball from Mallory Lotz and slotted her shot home to make it 2-0 Blue Devils.
Columbus -- which has won two straight and four of five since a midseason run of three losses in four matches -- added one more goal before halftime when Abby Roth headed home an Ivey Burbrink cross at 39:53 to send the Blue Devils into the break with a 3-0 advantage.
"We wanted to spend the first few minutes of the match feeling out what Stephens County wanted to do," said Columbus coach Russell Oliver. "Our defense has played well against some of the best teams in the state this season, so we knew we could take some chances offensively and we did that."
Oliver substituted liberally throughout the second half, including lifting starting goalie Anna Scogin in favor of Alaya Tyler, and his team kept on peppering Indians goalie Bailey Taylor with shots.
Nada Elrhalami put her name in the scoring column when she got a rebound of Mary Helen Callier's shot and stuck her shot in the back of the net to give the Blue Devils a 4-0 lead at the 44:55 mark. Columbus got its final goal of the match at 65:20, when Nikiay Comer grabbed a loose ball in the penalty area and beat Taylor with a shot in the lower right part of the net to make it 5-0.
"I think our kids are playing with more confidence right now," said Oliver. "They're feeding off the win over Woodward Academy (a 1-0 victory in College Park April 22) and feel like they can play with anybody in the state."
Scogin played the first 40 minutes of the match and made two saves, while Tyler had to make only one save to preserve the shutout, the Blue Devils' 11th clean sheet of the season.
Tuesday at Columbus StateGoals--Columbus: Lane Burbrink, Kyla Wright, Abby Roth, Nada Elrhalami, Nikiay Comer. Assists--Mallory Lotz, Ivey Burbrink, Mary Helen Callier. Goalies--Columbus: Anna Scogin 2 saves, Alaya Tyler 1 save. Stephens County: Bailey Taylor 11 saves. Records--Columbus 13-5, Stephens County 8-7. Next: Columbus vs. No. 8 Grady (12-6) (state playoffs second round at Columbus State) May 7.