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Union Grove earns first-round sweep

By Anthony Rhoads

It's on to the Class AA/A Elite 8 for the Union Grove boys and girls soccer teams.

Union Grove swept Vidalia in first-round action Friday night at home to earn the right to advance to the quarterfinals.

The boys started the evening by shutting out the Indians 4-0 and the girls followed by blanking the Lady Indians 9-0.

Both teams will travel to Columbus next week with the boys taking on Pacelli on Friday and the girls play at Brookstone on Saturday.

Union Grove 4, Vidalia 0 (boys): Nick Ellis set the tone for the Wolverines when he scored on a penalty kick just 19 seconds into the contest.

"That was good because it put us up early and it made it easier to play the rest of the game," Ellis said.

Union Grove did all of its damage in the first half. Junior midfielder Spencer Probst scored twice and sophomore midfielder Daniel LeCates scored once to account for Union Grove's scoring in the first half.

"I think we came out really strong," Union Grove head coach Mark Matthews said. "We were coming out psyched up for it and were pumped up early."

Union Grove played without Eston Thomas, the team's leading scorer with 22 goals on the season. Thomas is nursing a leg injury and is expected to be back for next week's quarterfinal match.

Also out for the contest was defender Adam Newton, who is out with a pulled hamstring.

"Even though he was out, two of our guys (Juan Acevedo and Colt Van Lanken) came off the bench and played great defense," Matthews said.

Last season, Union Grove made it to the Class AAAA state playoffs but lost in the first round.

Ellis is enjoying his second trip to the state playoffs this year. In the fall, the senior went to state as a kicker on the football team.

"That's great for the seniors that we're getting to play and it's good to get a win," Ellis said. "It's good to keep going; it makes you feel like you've accomplished something."

Union Grove 9, Vidalia 0 (girls): Kelly Pipkin led the way with three goals as the Lady Wolverines won their first playoff game in school history.

Kirsten Jordan added two goals and scoring one goal each were Emma Lowe, Hannah Jones, Andrea Bustamante and Kaitlyn Rogers.

Union Grove led 4-0 at the end of the first half and added five goals in the second half.

Vidalia managed just three shots on goal in the first half and no shots in the second half while Union Grove pummeled Vidalia's goalkeepers with more than 30 shots in the contest.

Union Grove head coach Jane Cooper credited part of her team's success to playing tough competition in the regular season. Union Grove played well against several Class AAAAA teams including Stockbridge and Eagle's Landing.

The Lady Wolverines lost 1-0 to Stockbridge and played Eagle's Landing to a 0-0 tie.

"They've really played tough opponents and that set them up to get ready for this," Cooper said.