DECATUR – In unconventional playing conditions, Forsyth Central decided to play a little unconventional.
Middle forward Kara Slaughter volleyed a ball over the goalkeeper's head and back to herself before scoring in an uncontested net, while Jenna Uldrich stole the ball away from the same keeper moments later before gently placing a score of her own.
In all, the Lady Bulldogs outshot Druid Hills 17-6 on Wednesday night as they cruised to a 4-0 win in the opening round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs at Avondale Stadium. It's Central's first state playoff appearance since 2010, and they're moving on to the round of 16.
“I'm very excited,” Central head coach Angela Camp said. “These girls have gone through coaching changes and have not been to state before, so to come here and move on is exciting. We'll just prepare for the next game.”
Both teams had to battle unacceptable field conditions. Sprinkler heads in the field of play were stationary and protruding, simply covered with heaps of dirt that created mounds on the playing surface. From a strategy perspective, the team knew that the ball would be rolling much slower on the downtrodden field.
Central (14-4) adapted, and quickly found the back of the net in the first half when Allie Hildebrandt scored from the left wing, taking an assist from Hannah Hamilton. Slaughter and Uldrich had their highlight moments to make the score 3-0 before the half, then Callie Fagan connected with Hildebrandt for a second goal in the second half.
Central's defense shined, allowing just one shot in the second half. Offensively, the looks were so good throughout the game that Camp immediately had issues to resolve when the game went final.
“We could have scored a lot more than we did tonight, so working on finishing is something we'll do as we prepare for the next game.”
Central will host No. 4 seed Effingham County, which upset Houston County in the opening round, on May 4.
The contest also offered perspective into the strength of teams in Forsyth County. Coming into the game, Druid Hills (8-8-1) had won seven of its games by 10-0 scores in shortened time against lesser opponents. A team that was used to scoring, simply snuffed out completely at home.
It's a reminder that Central is more than ready for its further-legitimized future.
“I think the pieces are there. We just have to keep working on everything, especially in the offseason, and focusing on club ball and keep this group together, and we can do some great things,” Camp said.