The Columbus High girls soccer team had to wait an extra five days to kick off its pursuit of a third straight trip to the finals.
If there was any rust, it didn’t show on Monday.
The Lady Blue Devils cruised to an 8-1 victory over 4 seed Northwest Whitfield at the Walden Soccer Complex at Columbus State University.
Three players scored at least two goals and one, Kyla Wright, recorded a hat trick. With the win, Columbus advances to the second round, where it will face Chamblee on Wednesday at Kinnett Stadium.
“The other teams have a heads up on us,” coach Rusty Oliver said. “If I were them, I would have driven down to watch us play today. We’ve only got 48 hours to prepare from a hot, humid day. We can enjoy this tonight, but mentally and physically we’ve got to be ready to go in just two days.”
Oliver anticipated the quick turnaround and hoped for a quick and decisive victory that would allow him to rest his starters and get backups plenty of playing time.
He elected to use a formation that would put a lot of pressure on the opposing defenders, resulting in three early goals for the Lady Blue Devils.
Freshman Kimberly May scored first in the sixth minute, connecting on a penalty kick to give Columbus a 1-0 lead. Her first attempt went in but was waived off and she was forced to re-kick. On the second try, she squeezed the ball inside the left post and past the diving keeper.
Ten minutes later, Sarah Nell Beach pushed a short attempt inside the left post and, less than two minutes later, May added another goal to give Columbus a 3-0 advantage.
The Lady Blue Devils were in Northwest Whitfield territory nearly the entire half and had a number of other attempts either saved or shot just wide.
Late in the half, Lane Burbrink scored her first and only goal of the day to give her team a 4-0 lead.
It achieved Oliver’s pre-game intentions.
“I wanted to go after them,” he said. “It was a little different look than we normally run. If any team’s been watching us, that’s probably the fifth formation they’ve seen us run.”
Northwest Whitfield scored its lone goal of the day to close the first half, briefly closing the gap to three. Columbus senior Kyla Wright, however, scored three goals in the second half and Beach added one to ensure the victory.
Speaking about the number of goals coming from different sources, Oliver said that is the way he likes to see his team play.
“That’s what we want to do,” he said. “We don’t want to be one-dimensional. We want to be a threat everywhere. Our defenders are great defenders, but they’re also great attackers. Teams that play us have to be wary of us attacking from the back. Anyone can score.”
Now Columbus will turn its attention to Chamblee, a 3 seed that defeated Johnson-Gainesville 4-1 in the first round.
“I know they’re a good side,” Oliver said. “They come from one of the toughest regions in the state. They won their first game, so they’re in the same position we are. Fortunately we get to stay home.
“I would say most people would say it’s 50-50 on who comes out the winner. But we’ve always had tough second-round games. We don’t want to be on the losing side of those games, but it does keep us on our toes.”
Monday at the Walden Soccer Complex
Goals—Northwest Whitfield, Ashlee Huynh; Columbus, Kyla Wright 3, Sarah Nell Beach 2, Kimberly May 2, Lane Burbrink 1. Assists—Columbus, Burbrink 2, May, Taylor Schuler, Wright, Rachel Cochran. Keepers—Columbus, Anna Scogin 1. Records—Columbus, 16-1. Next—Columbus, Wednesday vs. Chamblee in second round at Kinnett Stadium.