WARNER ROBINS -- Houston County pulled away from Richmond Academy late in its GHSA Region 2-AAAAA soccer tournament opener for a 4-0 victory and a spot in the state playoffs Tuesday.
The Bears (8-5-1) controlled the action from the opening whistle and allowed just a single shot on goal by the visitors.
“I was very pleased in terms of time of possession, and that was fantastic,” Houston County head coach Jason Kirk said. “I was very pleased with the midfield play and very pleased with the back line, but obviously up top, we struggled to finish.”
After numerous failed chances to take the lead early in the first half, it was a defender who broke the deadlock. Sophomore Shannon Walsh corralled a half clearance on a corner kick and looped a long right-footed shot over the Richmond Academy keeper for a 1-0 advantage with 17 minutes to play before the break.
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“(Walsh) was moved from the midfield to center back for her leadership abilities,” Kirk said. “She talks, and she does all the little things you want in a center back. The keeper was coming out, the ball popped out to her, and she put it on frame.”
Georgia Bostic gave the Bears some insurance with 13 minutes gone in the second half as the sophomore cut across onto her left foot and connected on a bullet into the upper half of the net.
Houston County continued to pepper the Richmond goal for the remainder of the contest before eventually putting a pair of shots away in the span of less than two minutes to ice the victory.
“Obviously, we felt like we should’ve done a lot better on the scoreboard throughout the game, but you can’t argue with two goals in the last five minutes,” Kirk said. “We always like to finish our last lap harder than the first lap, and that’s something we talked about.”
The win was the sixth in a row for a young Bears team that has started to jell at the right time. Three of Houston County’s goals Tuesday were scored by a sophomore, and the roster includes just four seniors.
“Our whole team is pretty much sophomores, so having scored four goals by four different people in most of their first playoff games was very encouraging,” Kirk said.
Houston County’s boys first-round matchup with Grovetown was postponed just 33 seconds into the match after lightning was spotted nearby. The game was rescheduled for Thursday.