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Lady Gators cruise through first round of state
BA Soccer
Bulloch Academy's Kacie Ricketts watches her shot head into the net during Tuesday's GISA state playoff game against. Gatewood. Ricketts' goal capped a great day for the Lady Gators as they secured a 4-0 win.

The Bulloch Academy girls soccer team has been started off a bit slow the past few games. Tuesday they opened the state playoffs in much the same style, as they went into the half up 1-0 then scored three goals in the second half as they knocked off Gatewood 4-0 advancing to the GISA elite eight.

“It was a super effort from these ladies, and it’s a pleasure to coach them,” said Bulloch Academy coach Matthew Meeks. “We’ve been through a lot together and we did a great job today on both ends of the field.”

The Gators controlled the ball for the majority of the first half, but could only come up with one score. Senior Saylor Calloway fired a shot with her left foot from about 20 yards, and got it past the keeper for a 1-0 Gator lead with just over 20 minutes to go in the first half.

“That was a huge goal,” Meeks said. “Any time you can score first you start to settle in, and you gain some composure. That was a great shot by Saylor.”

The score remained 1-0 through the first 10 minutes of the second half, until coach Meeks shouts for the Gators to play with intensity finally paid off. Senior Madeline Cowart played a perfect through ball to Calloway who took a touch and fired another shot past the Gatewood keeper for a 2-0 Bulloch Academy lead.

“It’s great to have a lead, but at times it can make you complacent,” Meeks said. “I was really getting onto them to play with some fire, and finally Madeline came through with the great pass, and Saylor finished. That’s what you want from your seniors.”

Just over six minutes later the Gators added their third goal of the game. Cowart took a corner kick, and found Sam Joiner in front of the goal. Joiner played a perfect header past the keeper, and the Gators extended their lead to 3-0.

“Madeline had had a few really good corner kicks, and we were finally able to capitalize,” Meeks said. “Sam did a great job with the header and struck it through for the goal.”

The final goal of the game came from freshman Kacie Ricketts. Ricketts was alone on the left side of the goal and took a shot with her left foot from about 15 yards away. The ball went over the hands of the leaping Gatewood keeper for the fourth and final goal of the game.

The win puts the Gators in a familiar situation, as they return to the state elite eight for the second straight year.

“We play the winner of Deerfield and Heritage either Friday or Saturday,” Meeks said. “Last year we lost at Trinity Sharpsburg, but we are hoping for a different result this time around whether we get to play at home, or hit the road again.”

The Bulloch Academy boys were able to complete the sweep Tuesday afternoon as they pulled off an upset of No. 2 seed John Milledge Academy in Milledgeville. The game went to penalty kicks after being tied 1-1 through regulation. The Gators ended up winning 4-3 on penalty kicks.

“We are peaking at the right time,” said Bulloch Academy coach John Paul Padilla. “We fell in an early hole, but we fought back and were able to come out on top in the end. Most people didn’t even think we’d make it to the postseason, but these guys believe in themselves and we are proving people wrong.”

Both the boys and girls will now have to wait to see who and when they play in round two.