RINGGOLD, Ga. - The Heritage High School girls' soccer team spent Monday afternoon watching game video of its state Class AAAA semifinal opponent, top-ranked Marist of Atlanta. The Lady Generals watched and studied as the War Eagles dismantled Locust Grove in the quarterfinals.
Once they stepped out on the pitch Tuesday, the second-ranked Lady Generals found that no amount of preparation would have had them ready for this opponent.
Marist scored four goals in the first half and added three midway through the second, advancing to the state championship match with a 7-0 victory over Heritage. It was the Lady Generals' first loss of the season.
Stephanie Krouskos scored twice and Grace Packer had a pair of assists, but the War Eagles' attack -- which has outscored their four playoff opponents 35-0 -- was spread out and made defending them extremely tough.
Marist (21-0-1) will face Columbus for the state title.
"It was a challenge for us to go on the road in a field we'd never played on, against a team we hadn't seen before," Marist coach Sergio Stadler said. "We prepared to the best of our ability and achieved the goal that we came up here for."
Heritage coach Stacy Dunfee admitted the four-goal deficit at halftime was pretty daunting, but she was pleased by how her team played in the final 40 minutes.
"I told the girls that, at the end of the day, it's a soccer match," she said. "It [stinks] that we lost, but we can learn something from this and take something away from it.
"We can't let one game take away from the season we had."
Senior defender Kansas Carpenter agreed and said it was "awesome" to be the first team from Catoosa County to advance to the state semifinals.
"We worked hard for this. I don't think anybody thought we'd make it this far," she said. "Marist was a difficult team because they didn't have one single [person to] mark -- you had to watch for everybody. We saw some of the mistakes that Locust Grove made on film and ended up making some of the same mistakes they made."