JEFFERSON -- Wesleyan needed just one shot to drop.
The Wolves had numerous opportunities to score in the first half on Tuesday. Just over 16 minutes into its second round playoff game against Jefferson, Wesleyan finally got the goal it was looking for, as Beck Coxhead nudged the ball into the net to take a 1-0 advantage.
That was all the scoring the Wolves (5-12-1) would need to slay the Dragons on the road, but they added seven more goals for good measure, shutting out the hosts 8-0 to move on to the third round of the playoffs.
While pleased with scoring outburst, Wesleyan coach Lacey Gilbert left no doubt: the first was the most important.
"We knew that would kind of open it up once we got that first one in," she said. "We have six freshmen and six sophomores on this team, so a lot of them played their first state (playoff) game last weekend. They've got jitters. So you know that once you get that first one, it kind of calms everybody down. You don't relax, but you know you finally got one in. I knew we were going to have a lot of chances, but we just needed to finish, which is something we've had trouble doing this season."
And finish they did.
The Wolves scored two more goals before halftime, with Christina Moraitis and Maddie Hall doing the honors to help extend the lead to 3-0. Despite being ahead, Gilbert told her team they couldn't let up in the second 40 minutes.
"We've had a couple of games where we've played one good half, and we knew that we couldn't let down," Gilbert said. "They had some good, fast girls up front. A game can change with a breakaway really fast, so we knew we had to come out in the second half just as strong and not back off at all. We knew they had some really good midfielders and forwards who could put the ball in."
But the Dragons (8-6) and the quick players Gilbert alluded to never got loose, as the Wolves stymied any potential threat. Wesleyan also kept Jefferson on its heels defensively. Along with collecting her second goal, Moraitis was joined by Regan Lochmandy, Hope Morgan, Ellie Hall and Lizzie McIntosh as point-scorers in the second half.
With a dominating win -- and a shutout to boot -- it was easy for Gilbert to provide nothing but praise for the performance.
But ever the coach, Gilbert had an eye on the future, as a road matchup with either Vidalia or Thomasville awaits Wesleyan on Friday.
"We still want to work on connecting passes better -- not just connecting on two and three passes, but five and six," she said. "We want to work on finishing. We had a lot of shots that were right there and didn't go in. ... We don't want to settle or be content. We're pleased with the win, but we know we have a lot of things to work on to prepare for Friday's game."