High School Sports

Veterans, Owens roll past Southeast Whitfield

KATHLEEN -- For the first several minutes, Veterans was on the Southeast Whitfield side of the field, but the Warhawks weren’t giving goalkeeper Syndey Covingtion much to do.

The ball floated toward the goal a few times but nothing serious.

Then things changed and in a big way.

Khayla Owens scored, then scored 74 seconds later and then scored 65 seconds after that.

The senior’s latest hat trick was more than enough as the Warhawks handled Southeast Whitfield 6-0 on Tuesday in a GHSA Class AAAA girls soccer second-round match.

The Warhawks improved to 19-0-3 and will take on a familiar -- and not in a good way -- opponent in the next round, Marist, which beat Veterans 3-0 in last year’s state championship.

Veterans head coach Haley Walker expects a better performance then than what she saw Tuesday.

“It was not as good as I like or what we expect,” Walker said. “I think (with) these girls, 6-0 is comfortable for them. They analyze, they sit back and they realize, ‘Hey, we’re comfortable.’

“I don’t like to be comfortable.

Walker wasn’t happy at halftime, telling her team that Southeast Whitfield was winning more balls and that the Warhawks looked like they were playing with “a lack of effort” and needed to be more aggressive.

“It was more of a ‘Get the job done,’ ” Owens said of the evening. “It wasn’t quick. It starting picking up toward the end of the first half, and dropped some in the second.

“We got in a little trouble after that.”

The early minutes were what Walker didn’t like with the Warhawks controlling the ball but not doing much with it.

Then Owens almost effortlessly found the left side three times in short order, and suddenly, the Warhawks were in control.

“We just wanted to get out here and attack quickly and be able to score against them quickly,” said Owens, who added two second-half goals. “We know they’re a high-pressure team. We executed our game plan.”

Taylor Craig added a goal on a breakaway down the left side at the 23rd minute, and the Raiders continued to try and keep the ball on the other half of the field for any substantial period of time.

Southeast Whitfield played a little better in the second half but still couldn’t manage any stretches of possession or dribbling.

“We’ve kind of been a second-half team all year,” Southeast Whitfield head coach Todd Close said. “When you don’t play for 40 minutes ...

“And (Veterans) took care of business.

A few long boots went toward the goal but not enough to stress out keeper Victoria Moore. Walker’s view of the second half wasn’t too different than the first.

“Our defensive shape (Tuesday) wasn’t quite there,” she said. “We should have been stepping to balls. We should have been putting high pressure on this team.”

But the Warhawks gave the Raiders (12-4) little hope.

“Their defense played really well,” Close said. “(Owens) had five goals, but it wasn’t like it was a one-man show. They have players. It was pretty well put together.”