Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Dacula Falcons Kristin Kelly (13) heads the ball against South Gwinnett Jazmyne Simon (9) during high school girls soccer action at Dacula High School on Tuesday.
DACULA -- Freshman Makayla Clack's goal in the 29th minute led Dacula to a region-opening 1-0 victory over South Gwinnett on Tuesday.
When Clack scored on an assist from Lauren Vick, the Falcons already had been denied on a half dozen premium scoring chances. The difference was South Gwinnett goalie Mallory Sayre.
The senior keeper continued to keep the Comets locked in a one-goal battle, but Clack's goal stood up through the final horn.
"We had like 27 shots," Dacula head coach Jason Guzzardo said. "Coming off a big win, we had a little bit of a hangover. But it's a very young group. They might have put a little too much stress on it, being the first region game. We just have to be a little more patient.
"The biggest thing for me is the shutout. The goals will come. We had numerous opportunities in the first half."
The Falcons (6-1-1) beat Mill Creek 1-0 on Friday and now have five shutouts under their belt.
"We're happy we won, but we're obviously not satisfied," Guzzardo said. "You can't take these games for granted. We dictated and dominated. We just have to move forward."
South (3-5) was also on a roll, winning three straight coming into Tuesday's 8-AAAAA opener. The Comets hung close with Dacula, but had trouble making any sustained forays across midfield.
"I have a good group of girls and they'll learn from this," South head coach Brian Emsley said. "They were upset, but they were also fired up about tomorrow, getting out on the practice field and fixing the mistakes.
"We have young girls that need to understand every region game is going to be like that. Dacula gave us a look we had never seen before and we struggled. Their intensity level was higher than ours. They got the win and they deserved it."
Less than six minutes into the game, Dacula had its first good scoring chance. Vick was all alone at point-blank range and Sayre made the save falling backward.
A minute later, Clack got her first big opening. As Sayre leaped straight up, Clack pegged the crossbar.
Sayre denied senior Ruva Chimedza halfway through the first half, diving to the far side to rip the ball from the air.
Sophomore Sydney Thomas was the next Falcon to get a breakaway in the scoreless game. Thomas came in ahead of the defense and Sayre raced out to poke it off her foot. A couple minutes later, Thomas had another shot smacked away by Sayre.
But a less than a minute after that, Clack finally broke through.
"I've got to give credit to Dacula," Emsley said. "The moved the ball around and they beat us.
"I give our girls credit, too. They stuck with it. They kept fighting. They played well, just not well enough. And Mal kept us in the game. She gave us a chance."