By Steven Watkins
For the Forsyth County News
DACULA – Winning, surviving and advancing: three concepts in the playoffs that come hand-in-hand and without question.
With a 3-0 Tuesday night win at Hebron Christian and a second consecutive playoff victory, the Pinecrest Academy girls soccer team has every bit of the appearance of a team that not only belongs in this year’s postseason field, but of one that appreciates the importance of winning late in the season.
“Our goal is always to play in May,” Pinecrest head coach Don Martelli said. “It’s May 1, it’s the round of 16, we had the opportunity to make it to the quarterfinals, and we did.”
The Paladins wasted no time taking control of both the field and the match.
A cross by Allison Doerr, a header by Jaylynn Moreno and the resulting shot by senior Regina Metz resulted in a 1-0 lead inside of the first minute.
“It was great to get that first goal from Regina, because that allowed us to take a deep breath, relax and then we just kept coming, coming, coming,” Martelli said.
The Paladins built on the early lead by keeping both clear control of the match and constant pressure on the opposing defense, outshooting the Lions by a final margin of 18-5.
Early in the second half, yet another successful cross by Doerr resulted in a hard slide tackle by a Hebron defender, followed by a stellar free kick by Hayley Triplett from just outside the box.
“They were shifted a little bit over to the left,” Triplett said. “I was planning on hitting it far-corner, but it just kind of curved to the other side and went in.”
Inside of 10 minutes to play, a corner kick by Sofia Alvarez Del Pino led to a beautiful header by Metz for her second goal, as well as the third and final for both the Paladins and the match.
“I feel like we’re peaking at the perfect time,” Metz said. “I think the hard games we played earlier in the season are paying off as we start to play tougher, bigger and crisper opponents. I think we’re playing the best soccer we’ve played.”
Martelli’s squad now finds themselves squarely in the path of an Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy that has been averaging over 6 goals a game.
“We’re a great defensive team,” Martelli said. “Our game is always to play great defense first, keep possession and then our chances will come like today.”