THE BLITZ: South Paulding at GainesvilleTimes sports video
WATKINSVILLE — Last season, Oconee County fell just short of a state final appearance.
Not this time.
The sixth-ranked Warriors (19-3) blanked No. 4 West Hall (13-6-2) 2-0 in the Class AAA state semifinals on Tuesday in Watkinsville.
“If we hadn’t gotten there this year, it was going to be pretty frustrating to keep getting to the final four without getting to the state championship game,” said Oconee County coach Colin Connors, whose Warriors have reached three state semifinals in the past six seasons and made the state finals in 2007. “It feels great, and I’m especially excited for these seniors and even juniors who played last year. After coming so close last year, we were tied 0-0 at halftime of our final four game last year and came up short. Now we got over that hump and get to go one step further.”
Oconee County will play St. Pius in the state final at Emory on Saturday. West Hall’s season is complete.
“Tonight was a tough loss for us, I thought we played really well and did what we wanted to do,” West Hall coach Tim Gale said. “We possessed the ball better; the shots just didn’t go in for us tonight. We missed the goal some, which has been a problem for us, but we have ourselves chances.”
A header from Kyle Fromm off a pass from Chase Kane gave Oconee County a 1-0 lead seven minutes into the game.
“It was all Chase Kane,” Fromm said. “He brought it right down the line and beat like three people, and I was right there to put it in. It was all him, I was just there to bump into it.² Said Connors: ³He recognized that Chase was about to deliver and got across to head it in. He¹s a big, tall player that¹s very strong in the air ‹ one of the strongest in the air that I¹ve ever had play for me.”
Nick Morin added an insurance goal with 24:50 remaining in the second half to give Oconee County a two-goal advantage.
“We’ve been down before and came right back,” Gale said. “We knew what we did wrong with that goal and it’s something we practiced.
“Oconee is a good team, and we really can’t be unhappy with all that we did this year.”