Just 25 seconds into the Georgia Independent School Association Class AAA semifinal contest, Augusta Prep’s Amanda Murphy scored on the Eagles.
Before the shock of the quick goal could sink in, Stratford had an answer. Allie Hale gave Elizabeth Fuller a perfect pass, and Fuller drilled it in to tie the game.
Total elapsed time from opening kickoff to the equalizer: 36 seconds.
The quick action was a prelude to the rest of the game, with Stratford defeating Augusta Prep 8-4 to avenge last year’s semifinal loss to the Cavaliers.
Stratford (17-0) advances to the championship game. The Eagles will play host to Deerfield-Windsor or Westminster at 5:30 p.m. on May 11.
“I think when they scored so quickly it woke us up and made us mad,” said Fuller, who was starting her first game since she tore her ACL in November. “Allie set me up, and I had a lot of adrenaline in the kick because I was so excited to be starting. It means a lot to be able to help the team in any way that I can, and it meant a lot to me because soccer has been such a big part of my life.”
Stratford played with intensity after the early goal. After Fuller tied it, Haley Tidwell scored in the seventh minute, followed by Hale scoring five minutes later off of a Tidwell assist.
The Eagles continued to pressure Augusta Prep, and Shelby Walker scored in the 17th minute off a Lizzie Clayton assist.
Tidwell, who ended the game with three goals and two assists, scored in the 29th minute to make it 5-1.
Augusta Prep did not quit, scoring the next two goals, the second one on a great effort by Caroline Smith, to make it 5-3.
But Hale answered two minutes later to give Stratford a comfortable lead.
Myler, in his first year as a head coach, had one thought in his mind after the early goal.
“I knew it wasn’t going to be a 1-0 score like it was the last time we played them,” Myler said. “We just are in a great offensive flow, and it’s hard to stop Allie and Haley and so many other great players.”
This is a team that knows how to respond on the field when things aren’t going their way, and that’s exactly what we did in this game.”