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Walton blanks Peachtree Ridge

Photo by Brandon Brigman

Photo by Brandon Brigman

MARIETTA -- The Peachtree Ridge girls soccer team had a tall order Tuesday night -- take down second-ranked Walton on the road in the first round of the Class AAAAA playoffs.

The Lions fell behind early in that quest and never gained any traction, losing to Walton 4-0.

"We played a good team tonight in Walton." Peachtree Ridge head coach Bill Holleman said. "We tried some tactical stuff early and got in a hole."

The Lions fought hard, surviving a couple of onslaughts by Walton in the early minutes to keep the game scoreless.

However, forward Brooke Theobald broke through with a powerful 30-yard kick that sailed over the head of the goalkeeper to give Walton a 1-0 advantage in the 10th minute.

Peachtree Ridge simply could not sustain an attack as all of its forays into Walton territory were thwarted by the stingy Walton defense.

"We've got three seniors back there playing... they read the ball well and got us back on the attack," Walton head coach Bruce Wade said.

Peachtree Ridge nearly gave up another goal two minutes later, but a shot by Walton sailed just over the crossbar keeping the Lions' deficit at one.

The top seed was the aggressor throughout the first half, beating Peachtree Ridge to the vast majority of the 50-50 balls and dictating the pace throughout the opening half.

Walton's aggression paid off in the 27th minute as forward Johanna Liney got a pass from Lucie Sandberg, chipped the ball over the goalkeeper, regained her balance and kicked the ball into the empty net to put Peachtree Ridge in a 2-0 hole.

"I asked the girls at the half, we could keep the game close or try to go play, and we decided to go play," Holleman said.

Peachtree Ridge showed signs of life to start the second half as it generated an opportunity by Emily Edmonds but her shot hit the top of the crossbar and landed out of bounds

Peachtree Ridge soon found itself under attack again as Walton created numerous opportunities in the Lions' zone in an attempt to increase its lead.

Walton did just that in the 56th minute as Sarah Dudaller headed a corner kick by the keeper to bury Peachtree RIdge in a 3-0 hole. Walton took advantage of another corner kick as Celena Nicholson corralled the entry pass and fired it into the net to end the scoring in the 62nd minute.

The Lions will lose three seniors on a team that overcame injuries at key positions and won eight of its final 12 matches, Holleman saw this as an opportunity to get the team prepped for next season.

"I told them I was proud of them, particularly my three seniors," he said. "They are all going off to play college ball, for the rest of us it is time to start working on next year already. ... We're excited about what we've got and we will just get better from this point forward."