That depth was on full display Saturday as eight different players scored, en route to a 9-1 victory over Richmond Hill in the quarterfinals of the Class AAAAA state playoffs at Pope Multi-Sport Complex.
The victory moved Pope (15-2-3) into the state semifinals for the first time since 2003. The Lady Greyhounds will host Region 4AAAAA champion Starr’s Mill on Wednesday.
“It’s a huge accomplishment,” said Pope coach Trey Daniel, who is in his sixth season at the helm. “I think the last time this happened was in the late ’90s and early 2000s. Pope had a run of four state championships in a row, but it hasn’t happened since I’ve been here.
“We’ve been to the quarterfinals a couple of times, and been knocked out, so we’re excited about Starr’s Mill and hopefully we can win two more.”
Goodwin Brown scored twice for the Region 7AAAAA champion Lady Greyhounds, who have won 10 straight. Kathryn Schreck had a goal and two assists, while Sydney Meador and Alex Grace each scored a goal and an assist.
Lauren Wilson, Sophie Aldridge, Alexa Moore and Taylor Meneide each had one goal. Hailey Johnston and Emma Kate Lewis each added an assist.
“We have a very deep roster,” Daniel said. “We have 20 on the roster, and all of them can contribute. Depth helped us a lot against Loganville in the last round, and it certainly helped us (Saturday) as well, so we have tons of players that can help us out in many different ways.”
Pope scored its first goal in the 11th minute off the foot of Wilson, with an assist from Schreck.
The Lady Greyhounds dominated first-half possession, resulting in a 3-0 halftime lead. Meador fed Aldridge into the box for a quick strike from 11 yards out and a 2-0 margin in the 25th minute.
Pope’s final first-half goal came in the 39th minute. Grace fed a ball through the Richmond Hill defense that Brown caught up with. She raced downfield 30 yards, and when goalkeeper Maria Cuevas came out to challenge, Brown beat her from 12 yards away for the 3-0 margin.
The Lady Greyhounds’ offense picked up in the second half.
Grace’s pressure on Cuevas resulted in a failed clearing attempt for the keeper. Schreck then moved in on the errant kick and found the back of the net in the 47th minute for a 4-0 advantage.
Nia Gordon scored a goal for Richmond Hill (17-4) from 25 yards away a minute later to snap the drought, but Pope responded quickly, as Grace’s score in the 51st minute pushed the lead back to four.
The advantage grew to 6-1 in the 58th minute, when Moore scored off Schreck’s corner kick, and it moved to 7-1 a minute later on Taylor Meneide’s penalty kick.
Brown netted Pope’s final score in the 73rd minute off an assist from Lewis.
“The score was shocking because our first two playoff games were close,” Grace said. “But we’re just getting into our groove, and maybe this is the start of good things, leading to a state championship.
“I think, after we got up a couple of goals, we just slowed it down and played possession and — bing, bing, bing — we found girls open. It’s so exciting. We’re so close to a state championship, and we’re hoping to get there.”