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Buford girls strike fast, take down Decatur 3-0 in soccer playoffs
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After escaping Decatur earlier this season with a slim victory in overtime, the Buford Lady Wolves, the No. 1 seed from Region 7-AAA, wanted to do two things in the rematch: Score fast and play a mistake-free game.

They did just that on Thursday night in Buford.

Buford (17-0) continued their undefeated season with a 3-0 victory over No. 4 from 6-AAA Decatur in the first round of the state playoffs.

The Lady Wolves will host either Cartersville or Oconee County next Tuesday night in Buford.

“Score fast, score fast,” Buford head coach Crystal Fowler said about the Lady Wolves’ game plan. “My assistant coach told me that our fastest goal we scored this year was in 28 seconds. She challenged (the players) to score faster than that, and we did, by one second.”

Fowler was referring to the game’s opening goal by senior Ann Schmidt which came just 27 seconds into play.

“That was the plan, to score fast and get up on them, and keep them down,” Fowler said. “My defense really stepped up tonight. That’s what I told the girls, I said ‘you all need to pat the defense on the back.’ Those girls were locked in. They were focused.

“That’s my reliable group back there. I don’t take them out of the game. They had a great game. They didn’t make any mistakes. When (Decatur) scored on us in our last game it’s because we made some little, silly mistakes, and they knew tonight that none of that was going to happen. I was just really proud of them the way they played.”

Fowler also knew her team could’ve had a bigger night offensively after missing 11 shots in the first half, but she noted that it was much like the beginning of the first game between the two teams earlier this season.

“That was similar to the first time we played them,” Fowler said. “We just couldn’t put it away. That goalie is fantastic. She’s very good. She’s just able to shut people down.”

Schmidt was able to nab the game’s final goal as well. Junior Jessi Vaverka booted a corner-kick from the right side of the field to where Schmidt was waiting to deliver the knock-out goal to Decatur.

“When we went out for the coin toss, I thought (Decatur) was scared,” Schmidt said. “I was like ‘I’m ready to hammer them.’ I was ready. We won 3-0. We found a way to score. Last time we played them, the field was like two-football fields wide and it was awful.

“It was like 90 degrees. We were dying, and we couldn’t connect the ball at all. But this time was a lot better. I don’t think we’re at our peak, but we’re playing really well. We’ve really figured out how to play each other.”
Freshman Brie Smith scored the other goal and had the assist on Schmidt’s first goal. Junior Ceely Coker also added one assist.