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Devils storm past Coffee in region playoff

    For now, Statesboro’s soccer team can look back and celebrate a “successful” season.
    After finishing the regular season 12-2-1 and securing the No. 1 seed in the 3-AAAAA region tournament, the Blue Devils once again punched their ticket to the state playoffs with a 2-0 win over Coffee High School Wednesday night at Womack Field.
    In the first half, Alex Wagner put the first goal in with an assists from Manny Rodriguez off a corner kick. A day before his birthday, Wagner would strike yet again with 24:25 left in the game.
    Before Wednesday's matchup, SHS head coach Nick Thrower said the season wouldn’t be considered a success if the team lost in the first round of the region playoffs to the Trojans.
    “I think we can definitely look back on our season and say, ‘OK, we’re a strong team.’ So now the question is how strong do we want to be. As we look forward we want to continue to set new goals,” Thrower said. “Our target is to get to the finals. We’ve go to the [region] finals twice in the last three years and we really want to make it a third time.”
    Against the Trojans, Statesboro seemed to control the midfield. Thrower said the Blue Devils were able to play at their pace and control the game as a whole.
    Statesboro goalkeeper Kyle Altman had a solid day for the Blue Devils, recording three saves in the first half.
    In the second half, Altman made a diving stop to his right to keep the team’s momentum and preserve the shutout.
    “At that moment, everyone was crashing the box and when there’s no space it’s kind of nerve-wracking for a keeper. I just had to be quick on my feet and get back across,” Altmans said.
    It wasn’t all fun and games for the Blue Devils. In the first half Mercer Tedders colided with a Trojan defender and appeared to sustain a leg injury. Tedders limped off the field and did not return in the game.
    Thrower said Tedders was “50-50” and could have gone back in, but decided to let players Jordan Host and John Desiderio fill the void. Caleb Dowden was also a force to be reconed with Wednesday night, stepping up when needed.
    “They played well in place of Tedders. Caleb Dowden really anchored our back line. He was very aware of when [Coffee] would try to play the long ball and very calm. He knew when to clear and had an all around great game,” Thrower said. “Thomas Sullenger and Justin White managed to play hard, strong soccer and get us into the game as well.”
    Statesboro will face Brunswick (10-6, 7-2 Region 3-AAAAA) in the next round of the region playoffs Friday at 5:30 p.m. at Womack Field.