By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
Anthony Betancio scored two goals and Ashton Mealor, Riley Quick and Bailey Poppell added one apiece to lead South Effingham to a 5-0 victory over Heritage, Conyers in the first round of the Class AAAAAA boys soccer tournament Friday.
The Mustangs (13-6) advanced to the Sweet Sixteen against Region 1 champion Valdosta, a 2-1 winner over Morrow in the first round.
The matchup of two streaking teams will be in Valdosta on Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
Valdosta (14-2-2) has won 12 in a row. SEHS has a six-game winning streak.
“I think we’re in a good spot right now, but we’ll be tested against Valdosta,” Mustangs coach DaKota Paradice said. “For us, it always seems to come down to, ‘Are we playing well that day?’”
Paradice couldn’t have asked for more from his team against Region 3’s second-seed Heritage. SEHS dominated throughout the night, allowing Paradice to substitute liberally in the second half. Paradice said several junior varsity players saw action, including Poppell, who scored the final goal.
Paradice said a key turning point against Heritage came in the second half when Mustangs goalie Chase Hoffman made a big save and SEHS started a counter attack that led to the fourth goal.
The Mustangs scored on three set plays off corner kicks.
“We’re a three seed but we’ve been tested in our region and three teams in the region (Glynn Academy, Brunswick and South Effingham) won first-round games so we’ll have an idea of what to expect,” Paradice said.
Lady Rebels fall
The Effingham County girls dropped a 7-0 decision to Region 3 champion Grovetown in the first round of the girls Class AAAAAA state tournament Thursday.
The Rebels finished their season with an 8-7 record.
South girls ousted
The South Effingham girls won their first round state playoff match against Rockdale 5-0 on April 19, but lost later in the week on the road at North Atlanta 3-0.
The Mustangs, a second seed from Region 2, ended their season at 13-5.
Area 1 champs
The South Effingham girls golf team consisting of Bella Sapp, Abbie Cheney, Hannah Smith and Alyssa Marburger won the Class AAAAAA Area 1 championship at the Georgia Southern University Golf Course on April 19.
Logan McCrae shot an 89 to lead Effingham County to a second-place finish.
Still ahead are Sectionals at Indian Mounds on Jekyll Island and the state championships at Sunset Hills Country Club in Carrollton.
Brown, Howard honored
South Effingham announced softball shortstop Alex Brown and boys cross country runner Cailan Howard will be honored in their respective sports during an online awards show by 912Sports.net.
The third-annual event was scheduled Tuesday.
Brown, who has signed to play for the University of North Carolina, was the Region 2-AAAAAA softball Player of the Year after batting .463 with four home runs, 19 runs batted in and leading the Mustangs to a 28-4-1 record, a region championship and an Elite Eight appearance at state.
Howard was a key member of the boys cross country team that finished second at state. The junior placed fifth individually with a time of 16:54.65.