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Gators in quarterfinals
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    When Bulloch Academy’s girls soccer season kicked off at the beginning of March, the future didn’t look incredibly bright.
    The Lady Gators were trounced 11-1 by state power Augusta Prep and the prospect of playing through one of the toughest region schedules in GISA wasn’t much more promising.
    But then things turned around. As girls who had spent the winter in other sports settled in, the team’s progress was swift.
    “A lot of our girls were on our basketball team that won the state title,” BA coach Matthew Meeks said. “We were certainly happy for them, but that game was on a Saturday and our first region game was the next Monday.
    “It’s great having athletes who come to us in shape and ready for the physical demands of the season, but it definitely took us a while to get settled into the season.”
    After a few rough results early on, the team began to rack up its share of region wins. By the time a rematch with Augusta Prep rolled around, the Gators were a totally different team. Augusta still managed a win, but the 1-0 final score showed that both sides were strong and capable of making noise in the postseason.
    The Gators finished out their regular season and claimed a No. 3 seed in the state playoffs.
    Last Wednesday, Bulloch hit the road for the first round of state competition where it upset second-seeded Tiftarea by a 2-1 count.
    “We went into the game confident,” Meeks said. “Really, I felt like the score might not have been closer than the play on the field. We gave up a late goal to keep (Tiftarea) in it, but we played very well throughout the game.”
    The Gators now face an even steeper test.
    Bulloch will pile on the bus once again — this time heading to Atlanta — to take on top-seeded Holy Spirit Prep today. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:15 p.m.
    The game was originally scheduled for Monday, but heavy rains have pushed back the match.
    Mother Nature did the Gators a favor as other sports once again prevented the team from practicing with a full squad. Many of the Lady Gators were in Albany at the end of last week as they helped Bulloch Academy to a third place finish at the state track and field meet.
    Thanks to the rain in Atlanta, those girls have been able to get in a few more practices.
    “At first, I was worried about how we would hold up,” Meeks said. “We’ve got girls like Ashley Burke, Paige Spence and Pate Lomax who are in just about every sport. They’ve been at it all year, but they’re still going strong.
    “The whole team is really up and confident. This is uncharted territory for us. We’ve got a very tough opponent waiting for us, but we’re going to go up there and play a good game and see what we can do.”

    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.