Could they defeat the state's No. 5-ranked team when they square off around 6:30 p.m.?
Yes, believes Roger Lowe, coach of the Lady Purple Hurricanes who took over just before their first practice game and watched them lose that contest and three more times for an 0-4 start before morphing into a team intent on a playoff rendezvous.
"This would be a great year to do that," Lowe said. "It would seem a great ending to a good season."
Cartersville had turned to Lowe -- with the school 28 years mostly as head coach of the boys soccer team -- when the Lady Canes' new coach left for personal reasons as the preseason was ending.
Lowe saw the practice game against Carrollton, which earned a 3-1 victory, then his team fell to North Gate of Coweta County (4-0), followed by Cass (2-0) and Woodland (1-0).
The coach said the LaFayette game signaled a dramatic change in the team, with the Lady Canes notching their first win after an intense defense struggle that was settled in PKs.
"We won it on our last penalty kick, 5-4," recalled Lowe.
That translated into a 1-0 victory, and the next week an even stronger signal from the Lady Canes showed Cartersville, which missed the playoffs the previous year, was capable of a return visit this year.
Kaeli McDermott, a senior and three-year starter, said the Canes surprised themselves against Riverwood, then ranked in the state coaches girls soccer poll.
"They were eighth in the state and we beat them," she recalled, adding Cartersville's Meredith Holmes got a free kick in the second half of the contest, sending the ball toward the Riverwood keeper from a distance.
"It dipped into the goal," she recalled. "I was real excited. I knew we were going to win."
Those two wins were followed by four straight shutout victories -- one of the victims Dalton -- and Cartersville had allowed its opponents goose eggs on the scoreboard six straight times.
The string of shutouts stopped against No. 3-ranked Allatoona, which crushed Cartersville 5-1, but the Lady Canes went 4-2 over the next six games to finish 10-6, 8-2 in Region 7-AAA with seven shutouts. Oconee is 14-3-1, 11-1 in Region 8-AAA.
Lowe said Cartersville's chances rest on the play of its defense. "We've played a really good defensive game against everyone except Allatoona."
He said that is a necessity Friday in Watkinsville. "We have played Oconee in the past and they are always well-coached and well-organized. I have not seen them play, but several people I've talked to say they are good defensively and offensively and they score a lot of goals. I'm looking forward to it."
He wants his team to concentrate on giving its best. "If we prepare and do everything we can to give us a chance to win, whatever happens Friday happens.
"We've beaten the teams we needed to beat. We lost to Allatoona, but we gave them a good first half. In the second half, they scored three quick goals and that threw us off.
"Then we lost to Heritage in a game we had an opportunity to win but didn't."
He said Cartersville also has a fine goalkeeper in Sydney James "and our midfield can control the ball."
Lowe said scoring has been a little up and down.
"We've had a lot of close games," he said. "Scoring has been difficult at times. That's what we're working on."
Lowe said the goal has been to improve all season. "We have improved as much, I think, as any team I've coached. We've come together each week, each game, done something a little better.
"At North Paulding -- a loss -- we played one of the better games we've played all season. If you had seen us play our first game, you wouldn't think it looks like the same team on the field."
He said James, the goalie, can be a difference-maker.
"Sydney James is the best I know in our region," he said. "I don't worry about her play. She is very fast, has great reaction time and has no fear at all."
He said Holmes, a senior, keeps the defense organized. "She has experience, keeps everything calmed down and is our stopper.
"Alex Everhart is an outside defender. In the middle are two freshmen, Victoria Everhart and Molly Acuff, who have great defensive tendencies."
He said the offense is led by Kaeli McDurmott, Stefanie Will and Mia Robinson.
"The three of them have played well together. We control the ball and we're just unlucky at times, doing things like hitting the post or just missing in some other way. Maybe during the playoffs the near-misses will go into the goal."
He also praised the play of Anna Phillips and Elise Sims, saying they helped make "a real interesting and enjoyable year.
"A lot of team members are friends. That makes it a lot easier. We haven't had drama. It was like all of a sudden I was given this great team of young ladies and I've really enjoyed it."
The Lady Canes say they expect a tough game.
Will said missing the playoffs last year gave her and her teammates something to think about.
"It was kind of hard because all the upper classmen would say we've always made state. This was the first they hadn't, and it was kind of like we were doing something wrong but we weren't. We just didn't have what we needed, I guess."
Although she hasn't seen Oconee play, she knows something about the school since she was a member of the Lady Canes' basketball team that played them in the first round of the playoffs.
"In basketball we lost to them," Will added. "I want to beat them so ... I don't get beat again by Oconee."
The game is also big to Alex Everhart, another senior.
"This year we had to adapt considering we had a rocky start," she said, "but we came together. A lot of seniors had to step up."
She said the team's five seniors hope to still be playing after Friday.
"We hope to go further, but Oconee is going to be a really tough game."
James also has high expectations for the Lady Canes.
"We're aiming to win this game," she said. "Since I've been on the team, we haven't won a playoff game. I think this year will be different. I have faith in my defense, my forwards, my midfielders and myself.
"I think we can help pull through."