It took a while for Northside to get going Monday afternoon against Effingham County in their Class AAAAA girls soccer state playoff match, but once the Patriots got rolling, there was no stopping them.
The Patriots parlayed a hat trick by sophomore Autumn Fair and a strong second-half performance into a 5-0 win over Effingham County at Northside. The win sends Northside (10-3-1) into a second-round match Wednesday at No. 1 Starr's Mill in Fayetteville.
"It was really hot, and we had to get used to the heat, plus we were nervous," said
Northside senior Georgia Barton, who had a goal and an assist for the Patriots. "We spent most of the first half running around out there doing pointless things and (Northside coach Liz Keller) got on us at halftime. In the second half, we went out and played with a purpose."
Northside -- which was playing its first on-campus varsity home match in school history -- took less than five minutes to get on the board, as Barton found Fair for the Patriots' opening goal to put Northside up 1-0 early. However, it took the Patriots another 20-plus minutes to score again, this time coming from Rebecca Beech off a pass from Julie Reynolds in the 28th minute, and Northside took a 2-0 lead into halftime.
Add some defensive slips -- Effingham County (11-6-2) had three quality scoring chances just before the break -- to the Patriots' inconsistent offense and Keller was none too pleased with her charges at halftime.
"In the first half, I think we had a lot of nerves and we were dealing with the heat," said Keller, whose team has now won nine straight matches since a 1-3-1 start. "I told them at halftime that we wanted to come out and play with a purpose and with a rhythm in the second half. We wanted to play our game and we did."
It took the Patriots just three minutes after halftime to make it 3-0, as Barton won the ball in midfield, dribbled around and through several Effingham defenders and buried a shot in the lower left corner of the net. It stayed 3-0 until the 62nd minute, when Fair won a long clearing ball and laced a shot in the bottom right corner of the net to put the Patriots up 4-0.
Fair closed the scoring in the 65th minute when she let loose a shot from about 35 yards out that sailed over the Rebels' goalie and into the top of the net to put Northside up 5-0. The Patriots -- who outshot Effingham County 13-4 in the second half and 18-8 for the match -- substituted liberally in the final 20 minutes as they tried to rest some players ahead of Wednesday's trip to Starr's Mill.
"It's going to be a quick turnaround for us and will be a challenge," said Keller. "But we're used to being in the underdog role and I think if we play our game, I think we can do great things."
Northside's sophomore goalie, Katie Mackie, only had to make three saves before being lifted in the 70th minute, but she did thwart several Effingham scoring chances by intercepting passes and smothering crosses when the outcome was still in doubt. Freshman Jennifer Klinkosh handled the final 10 minutes in net, making one save to help Northside post its ninth clean sheet of the season.
Monday at Northside
Goals--Northside: Autumn Fair 3, Rebecca Beech, Georgia Barton. Assists--Northside: Georgia Barton, Julie Reynolds. Goalies--Northside: Katie Mackie 3 saves, Jennifer Klinkosh 1 save. Records--Effingham County 11-6-2, Northside 10-3-1. Next: Northside at No. 1 Starr's Mill (16-3) (Class AAAAA State Playoffs Second Round) Wednesday, Time TBD.