The Lady Purple Hurricanes will play today at 6 p.m. at Oconee County High in a rematch of last year’s thrilling first-round state playoff game that ended with Oconee pulling out a win with a breakaway the length of the field with 33 seconds left in overtime of the game’s final minute.
That final goal came less than a minute after Cartersville had knotted the score at 3-all.
Roger Lowe, who directs the girls soccer team for Cartersville, said that game has been on his mind a lot the past year because it was such a thriller and because his school’s athletes meet them on the playing field often.
The Lady Canes basketball team also has met them in the state playoffs the past two years as well.
“We keep running into them,” he said. “I’m glad we get to play them again. This gives us a second chance at redemption after last year.”
He sees similarities in the styles of the two teams.
“Last year I had never seen them play until we met in the playoffs,” he said. “It was like playing [ourselves]. I think we get a second chance at giving them a good game. Things happen for a reason. We’re just destined to play them again.”
Lowe said Cartersville will see an excellent team on the field.
“They are a good team. They are well coached. Their coach is persistent,” he said. “I know we surprised them last year. We gave them a good game.”
The Lady Canes are showing signs of peaking at the right time.
“Scoring has been hard for us the past couple of years,” he said. “Now, at the right time we are beginning to shoot better.”
Lowe said he has set a team goal of winning at least one playoff game but admitted his sights are higher.
“If you win one game, you can win another and if you do that you never know what will happen.”
Oconee appears to be solid once again.
It is carrying a 10-7-1 overall record with a 6-1 region record.
Cartersville this year has an overall 11-5 record and is 10-4 in its region.
The team is a little more balanced this season, too.
A year ago, the team used five defensive players, four midfield players and one forward, a formation that lends itself to strong defensive play.
This year the Lady Canes use four defensive players, four in the midfield and two forwards.
The subtle change has resulted in a little better balance by the Lady Canes but has not cost them defensively.
Cartersville had 11 shutouts during the season while giving up a paltry nine goals, compared with eight shutouts last season and 18 goals in the regular season.
Lady Cane shooters found net 44 times, including a season high 10 times on senior night against Sonoraville. They scored 36 times during the regular season a year ago.
“The goals against us were still low,” Lowe said.
The Lady Canes are led by some familiar faces, starting with Sydney James, the team’s goalie.
“I think Sydney is one of the better keepers in north Georgia,” Lowe said. “She has consistently kept us in games.”
He said Stefanie Will has stepped up her play at forward.
“She is one of our leading scorers,” Lowe said. “Sydney Miller, a ninth grader, and Abby Ingram, a senior, have started scoring at the right time and that’s helped us.”
He said the team has received good defensive play from Victoria Everhart, a sweeper.
“She is solid and fast and has stopped a lot of players.”
He said Molly Acuff, a left wing defender, also has been a defensive stalwart. “She is strong and solid for us.”
Lowe said Makaylie Gibbs, another center defender, also has made her presence felt.
“They have pretty much restricted goal scoring,” the coach said. “We’ve done a good job in that area.”
Lowe said he believes Cartersville is once again capable of challenging Oconee.
“Potentially, we have a team that can beat a lot of good teams if we play the way we are coached to play,” he said.