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North girls can't hold off experienced Lassiter

MARIETTA -- After jumping out to a quick 1-0 lead in the first five minutes, there was a surge of belief that North Gwinnett, a .500 team with one playoff upset already under its belt, just might pull off another one and sneak into the semifinals.

But a talented, experienced Lassiter team proved to be too much for the Bulldogs, who lost 3-1 in the girls Class AAAAAA soccer quarterfinals.

North, which started six sophomores and played four freshmen, went toe-to-toe with the Trojans and were tied at halftime. The Bulldogs had a handful of opportunities in the second half, but couldn't capitalize.

"In certain instances they were just a little bigger and a little faster than we were," North coach Corbin Cofer said. "They play real solid defense and they're tough to penetrate. We were trying to get through, but it was tough tonight."

North Gwinnett finished the season 9-10. Cofer, who loses only one senior (Taylor Burns), said he's "very optimistic" about the future.

"We have a bunch of starters coming back and bench players that can fill a role," he said. "And they'll have a year's more experience and a year's more size. So things are looking are looking positive for the future."

Despite North's record, Lassiter coach Robbie Galvin said he knew his team was in for a fight. Amanda Delgado quickly proved him right, finding the back of the net with an assist from Caroline Gualdoni.

"They're another Gwinnett school and we knew their record didn't do them justice," Galvin said. "In the first 10 minutes, I'm swallowing my gum, but we made some adjustments, regrouped, figured out matchups and were able to tuck a couple away."

Lassiter's Breanne Thompson, who scored two goals to beat Grayson last week, tied the game at 1-1, scoring on a rebound in front of the net in the 18th minute. Marriam Elfakahany bounced in a pretty goal off the left corner in the 52nd minute and Kalli Vogel scored the final goal at the 17:20 mark.

Cofer encouraged his girls to keep charging throughout the game, which they did.

"We were connecting on a lot of passes," he said. "We had to get through midfield and we did that most of the game. We just weren't able to finish some of those chances."

Finishing his first year heading the varsity, Cofer huddled with his girls after the game and, despite the tough loss, spirits were up. The coach said he thanked the team and especially Burns, who had a 15-game scoring streak in the regular season.

"We showed her a little love," Cofer said. "And I told them to remember this feeling so they can come back next year, work harder and hopefully have a better result in the second round."