Catawba Ridge girls’ soccer head coach Brandon Schmidt says his team has a “hungry dog” mentality; a mantra he says has contributed to his team’s on-field success.
The Copperheads are now just four wins away from earning a 4A state championship.
Sadie Commerford scored two goals, while Adrienne Cooper and Kyleen Bents scored in either half to lead the Copperheads, who improved to 14-5 overall, to a 4-0 victory over visiting Riverside High School in the first round of the 4A state playoffs Tuesday evening at The Pit.
Schmidt said he takes inspiration from Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce, who has a mantra of “hungry dogs run faster.”
“We’re hungry dogs trying to make it to (the Class 4A state title game on) May 12,” Schmidt said.
After finishing as a No. 2 seed out of Region III, Catawba Ridge quickly took control of their first-round matchup.
Catawba Ridge took the early lead through Commerford just eight minutes in. Commerford collected a rebound near the top of the Riverside penalty box, took a touch, and buried a hard shot from 12 yards past sophomore goalkeeper Alicia Skoog.
Riverside had few opportunities to score on the other end, but nearly got lucky at the half-hour mark. Catawba Ridge goalkeeper Lainey Kilpatrick was unable to collect a high cross from the near side, but was able to recover before any Warrior strikers could turn the loose ball into the net.
Just three minutes later, the Copperheads doubled their lead through Cooper. Cooper picked up a pass on the right corner of the Riverside penalty area, turned to face goal, and ripped a screaming shot past Skoog to give Catawba Ridge a 2-0 lead just seven minutes before halftime.
“I think going into the playoffs, our confidence level is high,” Commerford said. “We have a lot going for us right now. The coaches are building us up a lot and giving us what we need.”
Bents scored just before the hour mark to hand Catawba Ridge a 3-0 lead in front of their home fans.
Commerford served up an inviting cross from the far side, which met an unmarked Bents in stride at the top of the six-yard box for the easy tap-in.
And Commerford secured her brace in the 72nd minute when she spotted Skoog out of her box and launched a long, looping ball over the goalkeeper and into the net to earn Catawba Ridge’s fourth and final goal.
Catawba Ridge will next play at South Aiken (10-7) Thursday, May 4 in the second round. South Aiken had a first-round bye after finishing as a No. 1 seed out of Region 4.
“We’re locked in, but we know we haven’t reached out best soccer yet,” Schmidt said. “This season has been a process, a grind. Going into every match, we know we need to get better and improve one percent better every day.”