The Jefferson girls’ soccer team finished its season at 12-4 and carried a No. 5 ranking in the most recent Class AAAA poll, but that’s not how coach Molly McCarty said the program will gauge itself.
McCarty’s Dragons exited the playoffs Wednesday (April 28) with a 2-0 road loss at Class AAA No. 3-ranked Northwest Whitfield in the Sweet 16.
“You can evaluate a season by wins-losses or find a bigger purpose to build upon,” McCarty said. “Our program culture is edged into preparing to go as far as possible into the playoffs. We never measure a ranking or a status until we finish. It definitely is not the outcome we worked for, or prepared for, but we can use our preparation and mindset to propel us for next season.”
McCarty said her team prepared “the best we could” for Northwest Whitfield, beginning those preparations following a regular season loss to Flowery Branch that locked the Dragons into the No. 3 seed out of 8-AAAA.
Jefferson, however, allowed the game’s first score in the third minute off a kick that sailed into upper 90 and was never able to answer.
“Our stats were convincing enough to show we dominated the game, but if you don't score goals, you aren't going to win the game,” McCarty said. “It's a simple concept, but when their game plan is to bunker you in and counterattack big ball directly when they get the ball at their feet, it gets frustrating. They definitely had the advantage with knowing how to play their field.”
The Dragons, who were trying to reach at least the Elite Eight for the third time in four seasons, had their chances to equalize but could not find the back of the net.
“We had several missed scoring opportunities that did not go in our favor,” McCarty said.
The coach said that her team made adjustments around the 68th minute, intensifying its pressure. The Bruins secured the game’s final goal in the 78th minute off a quick counter attack.
“Regardless as to if we lost 1-0 or 2-0, the players gave it all they had in the second half and trust me, we will build upon this for next season,” McCarty said.
Jefferson finishes the year with three of its four losses coming to teams that have reached the Elite Eight.
“And various aspects of those losses will be evaluated by our coaching staff to make us better for 2022,” McCarty said.