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Silverbacks entering new territory tonight
Playoffs start for women's team

For the first time in their three-year history, the Atlanta Silverbacks Women will try to march through the W-League playoffs toward a championship. The quest begins tonight at

6 p.m. in Minnesota against the Michigan Hawks.

Atlanta's roster has been filled with top-notch talent each season, including many former WUSA players. But the club has fallen short of the playoffs in the previous two seasons. This year, the Silverbacks were able to clinch their first Atlantic Division title.

"This has kind of been in the making for two years," defender Julie Augustyniak-Tuff said. "The dice have not been going our way. But this year, we're all in our prime going into the (playoffs)."

The team is a very tight-knit group according to Augustyniak-Tuff, lacking any divisive rifts that could be the difference in such a team-oriented sport.

"Chemistry-wise, we all get along on and off the field," she said. "There's a lot to be said for that."

Providence grad Sarah Steinmann, who works with Augustyniak-Tuff off the pitch at Holy Innocents', is second on the team in scoring with six goals and two assists.

"I'm really excited. We've been training very diligently to maximize our opportunities this weekend," Steinmann said. "We don't know a lot about the teams we're playing, but it also is a lot more fun to play someone brand new."

Steinmann and Christine Latham, the team's top goal-scorer with seven, form a potent offensive combination up front.

"Christine is very great up top," Steinmann said. "We've been playing really well together, connecting a lot better. So hopefully we can just be smart and recognize what the coaches have been drilling into our heads."

If the Silverbacks win, they face the Richmond-Minnesota winner for the Central Conference championship on Saturday at 8 p.m. The conference champion advances to the W-League semifinals along with the Eastern and Western Conference winners and tournament host Rochester.

SideBar: silverbacks soccer

' When: Tonight, 6 p.m.

' Where: Michigan

' Noteworthy: This is the first visit to the postseason for the Silverbacks womens team in its three year history