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Lanier girls ousted by River Ridge in playoffs

SUGAR HILL -- The most successful season in Lanier girls soccer history came to an end Tuesday as River Ridge utilized its superior speed to defeat the Longhorns 3-1 in the second round of the Class AAAA state playoffs.

"That was a great team," Lanier coach Jack Hughes said of River Ridge (13-6). "They are fast then they sped us up."

The Knights controlled the ball and the pace of the game from the start. Lanier (13-6) was able to stave off numerous scoring chances through the play of freshman goalkeeper Emily Polanco.

With 13 minutes left in the half, Polanco made a save on an attempted cross by River Ridge.

However, during the clearing attempt, Brooke DeSantis intercepted for the Knights and lifted a shot into the upper right corner to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

Lanier had its best chance to tie the game with three minutes left in the half.

A corner kick found Tori Wyant at the far post, but both of her shot attempts were blocked by the River Ridge defenders.

Early in the second half, Lanier tried to clear the ball, but it deflected off a River Ridge forward and was lying one yard outside the right post. Pacheco beat the onrushing Knight to knock the ball over the line, giving River Ridge a corner kick.

Pacheco made the save on the ensuing corner kick only to have her footing give way and fall into the net for a 2-0 River Ridge lead.

The Knights increased their lead to 3-0 with a goal off a header on a corner kick with 6:23 left in the game.

Casey Wilkes helped Lanier avoid the shutout with 37 seconds left when she broke in on the left side and put the ball into the net.

Despite the loss, Hughes is pleased with the progress of the program.

"We are in our third year and our first year we were 3-13," he said. "We set our goal to win region and we did. We are only losing two seniors, who I think the world of, and our goalie is a freshman who is just learning the position. I am looking forward to next year already."