For the entire season, Pinecrest’s soccer teams seemed to mirror each other. When one team started the season slowly, the other started the season slowly. When one team rattled off big win streaks, the other followed.
Friday night at home was no different. The girls’ team won 10-0 against George Walton to start the night, and the boys mirrored the performance with a 9-0 victory of their own in non-region games to end the regular season.
It was an ironic start for the Pinecrest girls (9-8, 6-2 Region 6-A). It took about five minutes for Margaret Metz and Maggie Bruckner to get a pair of goals, putting Pinecrest up 2-0. The quick start to the game was the exact opposite of the slow start that plagued their season early on.
It seemed like a long shot that this Pinecrest girls team would even make the playoffs, nonetheless host a playoff game, when they began the season 1-3. They had reasons for a slow start. It was head coach Dominic Martelli’s first season as coach. They had a front heavy schedule. They had a mix of young and old players.
The team really caught its stride after their 2-1 loss to eventual Region 6-AAAAAA champion West Forsyth. They reeled off a 4-1 record in their next five games, putting them in position to contest for a playoff spot.
“We played some very, very good teams [to start the season],” said Martelli, “but moving forward we knew every game, we were getting better.”
The gradual progression throughout the season manifested itself in the routing of George Walton. Seven different players found the back of the net, and they did not allow a single shot on goal.
Caroline Brenner led the way for the Paladins, scoring three goals and the game-winning goal.
“We knew this game was one where we could not only do the right things on the field and finish with some nice goals,” said Martelli, “but also send off our seniors on their senior day with a good win.”
It was a fitting start for the Pinecrest boys (10-7, 6-2). They have mirrored the girls’ team’s narrative almost all season. They also started out slow, dropping their first four games of the season. They also hit their stride after the loss to West Forsyth. They won their next five games to play themselves right back into contention for a playoff spot.
Friday, the boys picked up right where the girls left off. The starting lineup bolted out to a quick start. The first 15 minutes put the Paladins up 5-0, two of those goals coming from Ben Rivard. Once the lead was big enough, Martelli allowed the seniors to have some fun on senior night.
“We just played seniors where they wanted to play,” said Martelli. “We got both our seniors [Daniel Nunez and Jimin Kang] to score at the end of the game. We put our leading scorer in the goal, just so we could play.”
Despite the fun, Martelli knew how important it was for the teams to clinch a home playoff game.
“Everything we’ve done this season is to try to get us to play in May,” Martelli said. “Next weekend is the last weekend in April, and if we win, we are playing in May.”