The Statesboro Blue Devils began the Class AAAA playoffs in style, easily claiming a 7-0 opening round victory over Westover Tuesday evening at Womack Field.
The Devils (14-2) struck for four goals in the first half and cruised through the final 40 minutes to punch their first ticket to the second round of the state tournament since 2009.
“This was a great win for us,” SHS coach Nick Thrower said. “A lot of guys scored, but it was a total team effort. Everyone did their part to make this win possible.”
The Patriots (7-10) managed to keep the Devils off the scoreboard over the first 20 minutes before a miscue opened up the floodgates.
With 20:06 left in the first half, Tyler Proctor launched a ball into the Westover box. The pass missed its Blue Devil targets, but also confused Patriot goalkeeper Lyman Chen and bounded into the back of the net.
Statesboro notched a much more decisive goal at the 15:38 mark when Hector Angeles launched a low, bending shot just inside the left post.
The Devils finished with a landslide of goals, finding the net three times in the final 4:38 of the half.
Alex Wagner started the run with a chip into the box that eventually found its way to the right foot of Wesley Budgett. Two minutes later, a high clearance into the Westover box was misplayed by two defenders to give Emilio Quintero a point-blank look that he easily put away.
Statesboro added one more strike with 31 seconds to play. Wagner was taken down in the box to earn a penalty kick which Angeles blew past Chen for the 5-0 advantage.
“We didn’t want to let up,” Thrower said. “Westover is a good team and we wanted to make sure that we put ourselves in a good spot.”
Statesboro goalkeeper Drew Funk spent most of his evening watching the action from afar, but made a sprawling save two minutes into the second half to keep Westover from building any sort of momentum.
Budget scored his second goal of the night five minutes later and the Devils added one more for good measure as they cruised to the finish line.
Statesboro now advances to play either Jonesboro or Mary Persons May 6 in the second round of the playoffs. Regardless of their opponent, the Devils will retain their home field advantage.
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.