Stars shoot down Armuchee 11-0

LILBURN - Sarah Jordan scored five goals and the top-ranked Providence Christian girls decimated Armuchee 11-0 in the first round of the state Class A/AA soccer playoffs on Thursday.

The victory sets up an interesting second-round matchup with Holy Innocents' next week. The Golden Bears are ranked sixth in the state and beat Athens Academy 5-3 on Thursday night.

Holy Innocents' coach, Sarah Steinmann, is Providence's all-time leading scorer and was just becoming a star at the Lilburn private school when current coach Jonny Williamson was a senior there.

Holy Innocents' is also the only team to have beaten the 17-1-0 Stars this season - although Jordan, a junior who has already verbally committed to Clemson, missed that game.

"I'm so excited," Jordan said about the possible matchup with Holy Innocents'. "I love games where it's going to be a challenge. Just because you're pushing yourself and you're pushing your teammates.

"I love it. There was a game earlier in the season (against North Gwinnett), we were losing 3-1 and came back to win 5-3. I love that."

That wasn't the kind of game Providence faced against Armuchee, which was making its first state playoff appearance.

Jordan had a natural hat trick in the first half, scoring the game's first three goals. Despite the lead - and hardly allowing Armuchee to get past midfield - Williamson was concerned about how the Stars were playing.

"We can't start flat," Williamson said. "Holy Innocents' is our only loss. They have the ability to counter-attack and score really quickly.

"When we played them, we were down 2-0 after the first 12 minutes of the game and lost 3-1. So it was that flat start that killed us and you can't afford that. We have to create our own intensity and play at the speed we want to play at, not allow another team to control the tempo."

Which is what he felt like the Stars were doing in the first half against Armuchee. So Williamson made his point during halftime and Providence responded with eight more goals. It wasn't so much the number of goals that pleased Williamson, but the way the team played as a whole.

Freshman Tori Sorrels was the first to score in the second half, charging in on a breakaway and booting it past Armuchee goalie Blaze Wilson with 27:14 left in the game.

Sorrels' day didn't end well though. With the game winding down, she was in a head-to-head collision that left her mouth and nose gushing blood. Sorrels was promptly taken off for medical attention and her status for the next round in unknown.

"Tori really makes things happen," Williamson said. "As soon as we moved her on the wing, which is her natural position, because our other striker sat out today injured, we scored immediately.

"She's just got so much speed."

Also scoring in the second half were Cassidy Flowers (twice), Jordan Gotfredson (twice) and Carly Smith. Jordan added two more to her total before coming out about halfway through the second half.

"We're not looking for Sarah to have a certain amount (of goals); she's always going to get hers," Williamson said. "But it's nice to see everybody else working and not relying on her to have to do it.

"She will do it if it's not getting done, but you need other people to step up. Because teams are going to find a way to mark her or have special plans to mark her."

Certainly that will be important with tougher competition on the horizon.

"All of us are going to be challenged in the next game," Jordan said. "We're just going to have to do our best - and I think our best is good enough."