The Lady Purple Hurricanes won their first playoff game last week and the season was perhaps their most successful in recent memory.
Head coach Chad Murray said Wednesday’s loss at Weinman Stadium was to a very talented and experienced soccer team.
“Although we battled them in the first half to what really could have been a tie,” he said, “they came out and turned it on in the second half and we didn’t have an answer.
“We had our chances throughout the game. We had some good looks but just couldn’t get our shots to go. We didn’t have our best game today, but our girls left it on the field.”
Cartersville did present a formidable defensive effort most of the way as it turned away repeated shots by the Bulldogs.
Decatur got the game’s first two shots, its second off a corner kick, but neither found net. Cartersville responded with an attempt of its own when Molly Acuff battled through two defenders to fire a shot from 25 yards out that went over the goal almost nine minutes into the game.
The Lady Bulldogs came back almost two minutes with another shot, this one landing softly in the arms of Cartersville keeper Anna Robinson.
Cartersville’s defensive luck ran out in the 14th minute, however, when a Lady Bulldog drew a penalty kick for a foul in the box.
Robinson dove to her left and was able to touch the ball but it had already scored, and the visitors held a 1-0 lead that they carried into halftime.
The two teams continued their stellar play for much of the second half although Decatur continued to take more shots on goal. Cartersville was hampered offensively by several offside calls.
Decatur took two shots in the second half’s first 11 minutes that were turned away by Robinson.
Cartersville responded with one of its best opportunities when Chloe Davis took possession of the ball near midfield, scooted past a defender and dribbled down to about 20 yards away from goal before firing her shot, which was wide right.
Decatur scored its second goal minutes later when a forward broke in front of the goal and maneuvered around a defender to score in the 66th minute.
The Lady Bulldogs added two more goals over the next seven minutes, and Decatur had a 4-0 lead with just over six minutes remaining to conclude scoring for the evening.
Murray said the Lady Bulldogs were a formidable opponent.
“Loaded with juniors and seniors,” he said, “they played in the region of death down in Atlanta and are battle-tested and cool and calm under pressure. I don’t feel like we played our best. Certainly we gave it everything we had. The effort was absolutely there. The girls left it all on the field.”
He said the Lady Bulldogs capitalized on game adjustments to score late.
“I know the last goal and possibly the last two goals came because we put an extra forward in and took a defender out,” he said.
The adjustment didn’t pay off for the Lady Canes, however, as they couldn’t keep the ball on offense enough to shift the game to their preference.
He said Decatur was a difficult opponent.
“Their defensive line was the best I’ve seen all year,” Murray said. “They were really good and well coached.”
He said Cartersville will now turn its attention to next season.
“There’s so much to build on,” he said. “Abby Robinson in goal gets the game ball for me. She played a heck of a ball game to be a freshman. On the big stage, she just turned away shot after shot. I’m extremely proud of her. But all the girls did well. It’s something to build on.
“We got a playoff win. We’ll get ready and expect to win two [playoff games] next year.”
Cartersville finished its season 15-4 and earned the No. 2 seed in Region 5-AAA.
Decatur is 11-5-1.