Photos: Craig Cappy. North Gwinnett's Caroline Gualdoni, far right, is congratulated by Abbi Edwards (3), Taylor Burns (17) and Jordan Goldring (11) following her first goal of the night.
SUWANEE -- North Gwinnett's girls soccer players enjoyed a spirited post-game celebration Friday night, running through a tunnel of their fans afterward and then joined their fellow students at midfield for more dancing and yelling.
And if the fourth-ranked Bulldogs keep playing like they have been lately, there could be a bigger celebration next weekend.
The defending Class AAAAA champions won their quarterfinal handily Friday, rolling to a 4-0 victory eighth-ranked Kennesaw Mountain to set up a Final Four rematch with Region 7-AAAAA rival Mill Creek on Tuesday. The win was North's 10th in a row and improved its record to 18-3.
North even played without Lauren Harriman, who scored both goals in its second-round win. She sat out the game with a knee injury.
"Last year's playoffs were a one-goal game and two PK games before the state championship, so it's nice to put away a game like this," North girls coach Mark Karen said. "It's great for these kids to make the semifinals with no real superstars on the team."
The Bulldogs took control of Kennesaw Mountain (12-7) with a pair of late first-half goals that came barely more than a minute apart. Caroline Gualdoni got the first goal in the 24th minute, then Jordan Goldring finished up a scramble in front of the Kennesaw Mountain goal for a 2-0 lead.
Just 31/2 minutes into the second half, Gualdoni's second goal extended the lead. Taylor Burns made a nice pass ahead and Gualdoni was stuffed initially by the Kennesaw Mountain keeper, but she stayed with the ball and finished for the 3-0 edge.
Burns scored the final goal in the game's waning moments, taking advantage of a nice long ball from defender Krissy Tamburo.
"We knew (Kennesaw Mountain's) keeper was very strong, she's one of the best," Karen said. "So our idea was to get that extra pass and beat the keeper that way, not just settling for the long shots. It worked tonight."
Now North turns its attention to Mill Creek, which it beat earlier in the season. The Bulldogs are the second seed from 7-AAAAA, so they get to host the third-seeded Hawks.
"You know the old saying, it's tough to beat a good team twice," Karen said. "They're strong all over. We'll have our work cut out for us."