Lady Blue Devils dominate Mary Persons, advance to next round of state soccer tourney
Five local teams played this week in the second round of the Georgia High School Association boys and girls soccer state playoffs. Two of them advanced.
Claudia Veliz, a sophomore, led the scoring deluge amid the Blue Devils’ 26 shots on goal with three goals and one assist. junior Vanessa Aviles and senior Ashley Sajous scored two goals each. Shayla Perrymond and Josie Wood, both juniors, tallied one goal and one assist each. Senior Abby Littleton, freshman Alexis Steinhauser and junior Gabby Veliz chipped in one assist apiece.
Columbus senior goalkeeper Lizzie Hedrick made two saves in the shutout.
“The team played well,” said Columbus coach Catherine Lovin, “but still have work to get ready for our next game.”
The Blue Devils (19-1) advanced to the Class AAAA Elite Eight and will play May 7 at Region 6 first seed Heritage in Ringgold, starting at 6 p.m.
Three of their starters were sidelined with injuries, including the goalkeeper, but the Region 1 second-seeded Northside Patriots persevered with a 4-2 victory Wednesday at Region 2 first seed Spalding.
Northside was ahead 3-1 at halftime, thanks to junior Kaylee Scott’s unassisted goal and freshman Brianna Conley’s two straight goals, assisted first by sophomore Haley Sturla, then by senior Cynthia Soto.
Scott set up junior Marissa Taghon for Northside’s fourth goal.
Northside coach Elizabeth Toelle praised her team for prevailing in a physical game.
“They were there to win with an aggressive push toward the goal,” she said.
Toelle also credited the team’s back four (Soto, junior Olivia Smith, freshman Ally Gasser and sophomore La’Mya Morris) for their defense, as well as freshman goalkeeper Brigitte Velez, who made approximately 10 saves.
The Patriots (15-4) advanced to the Class AAAA Elite Eight and will play May 7 at St. Pius X in Atlanta, starting at 5:30 p.m.
“Upson-Lee is a strong and experience team,” said Columbus coach Rey Torres. “… We had a few chances go wide, and two hit the posts.”
Harris County boys
Javier Tinoco, senior, scored the lone goal for the Tigers.
The game’s only goal came in the 25th minute of the first half.
“Very back and forth game,” said Pacelli coach Nick Fusco. “Really physical with tons of fouls on both sides.”
The Vikings (14-4-1) had a scoring opportunity early in the second half, but the Whitefield goalkeeper saved junior Brayden Wood’s shot.
“We had the better of the chances in the last couple of minutes and even had a chance to tie it in the last five seconds,” Fusco said, “but just couldn’t put it in.”
Pacelli announced Friday afternoon that Fusco resigned to coach for the Charlotte Independence Youth Soccer Club in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“This opportunity was a chance to move up and grow in my career,” Fusco said in Pacelli’s news release. “I’m going to miss my players and their parents, as well as my assistant coaches and co-workers at St. Anne-Pacelli.”
In five seasons under Fusco, the Vikings went 73-29-5.
“We thank Coach Fusco for everything he did for our Vikings Soccer program,” St. Anne-Pacelli athletics director Corry Black said in the news release. “Our soccer program is one of the best in the state because of his leadership. We are going to miss him and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.”