LILBURN --Emma Carlson scored four goals last week in her first taste of the long-running rivalry with Brookwood.
What would the Parkview freshman do for an encore Tuesday night in her first state playoff appearance? Try four more goals.
The midfielder's latest outing powered third-ranked Parkview to a 6-0 victory in the Class AAAAAA first round over Etowah, which was the only team to defeat No. 1-ranked Harrison this season. It also helped the Panthers (16-3) shake off back-to-back first-round heartbreakers the past two seasons, though Carlson was still a middle-schooler in the stands for those setbacks.
Many of her teammates, however, experienced the previous seasons' disappointment firsthand.
"They did not want to lose again," Carlson said of the upperclassmen. "They were like, 'I'm not going to be in a good mood if we lose in the first round again.' I knew we had to do something. We can't continue the losing streak. ... It means a lot to get (the older girls) the win because I've bonded with a lot of them. I'm glad we could get them the win."
Carlson had a hat trick by halftime against Etowah (13-6), scoring all three of those goals in a span of 2 minutes, 46 seconds late in the first half to turn the game into a blowout.
The first came in the 32nd minute when she headed in Kristina Meyer's corner kick for a 2-0 lead. She scored again a minute later and then converted a penalty kick when teammate Kristin Telford was taken down in the penalty box.
Telford had scored the game's first goal, also a header off a Meyer corner kick, in the 18th minute.
"This is crazy," Parkview girls coach Judson Hamby said of Carlson's run of goals. "I think it's a lot of them playing well. Everything we've been doing the last couple of months, the reality of it has set in. What we've been doing, it's going to work. After the Brookwood game, we talked about all the pieces having to come together. It wasn't just Emma scoring the four goals, it was a lot of kids putting in the work.
"A lot of key kids right now are putting their work in and we're finally finding the net, which is what we weren't doing earlier in the year."
Somehow those goals keep coming off the foot, and head, of Carlson, who also scored on a beautiful shot just 1:28 into the second half. She now has 19 goals on the season, but eight have come in the last two games.
"I don't know what it is (lately)," Carlson said. "I feel like my team does a lot of the work and I guess I'm in the right spot to put it away."
Emma Manting added a late goal for the Panthers, who will face the Collins Hill-Johns Creek winner next Tuesday in the second round.
Etowah, led by Georgia signee Caroline Waters, never seriously threatened the Parkview net as the hosts posted their fourth straight shutout and 11th of the season. Mariah Garner and Megan Wiley, who played the final 21 minutes, shared the shutout at goalkeeper, but the steady play of Allison Litchfield, Sarah Nguyen, Madison Ober and Kristina Meyer deserves much of the credit for the clean sheet as the Panthers ended their first-round futility.
"We've had a lot of kids that have had some disappointment the last few years and they were really focused coming in," Hamby said. "Once we got settled in, and we got a few goals and relaxed, they just kind of played and went at them. ... Overall the seniors and juniors have done a great job of knowing what the past has been, motivating, being disciplined and being good leaders overall."