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Redskins make playoff history with home win over Swainsboro
Sophomore Kolbie English scored a brace over the visiting Tigers in the opening round of the girls' soccer Class A-DI state playoffs.
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She was the smallest player on the field but at the end of the match, she looked like a giant to Swainsboro.

Kolbie English, a 95-pound sophomore who was coming off a four-goal game against Jenkins, scored twice to lead Bryan County to a 3-1 win over the visiting Tigers in the opening round of the Class A-DI state playoffs.

The win, in the team’s first ever home playoff game, was another chapter in what has been an amazing season for Coach Kristen Barnhill’s squad which has now added to its school record for most wins in a season, first playoff win, and first home playoff game.

The Redskins (10-6-1) will next play at Lamar County (7-7) next Tuesday. The Trojans, an Elite Eight team the last two seasons, advanced to the second round thanks to a rare bye. There were not enough teams to fill out the bracket and Lamar got the luck of the draw.

The victory did not come without a price as leading scorer Liz Harvey went out with an elbow injury with 5:11 left in the first half following a hard collision involving her and two Swainsboro players.

Harvey was caught between the two Tigers as they battled for the ball. When the talented sophomore went down and did not get up everyone’s initial thought was she had reinjured the knee which she had hurt during basketball. She did not return to the game and will now be evaluated to determine her status for next Tuesday’s game.

At the time of Harvey’s injury, the Redskins were up 2-0 thanks to a goal by English five minutes into the game and another by Haley Thomas with 7:00 showing on the clock. At that point the Redskins were clearly in charge of the game.

“You kind of felt the air go out of us at the end of the first half when she went down,” Barnhill said. “Ava (Prader) came in and did a great job controlling the ball at the top and making great passes.”

When English scored with 35:25 on the clock Barnhill said that was just what her team needed to settle down and get into the flow of things.

“I think we were a little nervous coming in, a little jittery,” said Barnhill who is in her third year at Bryan County after a successful run at Southeast Bulloch where her teams never failed to make the playoffs and advanced to the Elite Eight her last two years.

“The kids were excited with this being our first home playoff game but I think we put all that aside,” Barnhill said. “Playing hard and scoring in the first five minutes is always one of our goals…to get up early.

“We finally started doing that this year and it was a great start to this game.”

With Harvey limited to cheering from the sidelines, the Redskins, in the playoffs for the second straight year, were relying on their defense—which had nine shutouts this season—to hold the fort and it was doing a fine job until the Tigers scored 12 minutes into the second half.

That goal seemed to snap the Redskins out of their somewhat dazed offensive state and English gave them some breathing room when she easily beat the Tigers keeper in a one-on-one matchup.

English was bearing down on the goal from the right side and the Swainsboro goalie made the mistake of coming out to meet her. A quick kick sent the ball soaring into the back left side of the net and with the way the defense was playing the game was effectively over.

“That gave us the step up we needed,” Barnhill said. “It gave up that little margin of error we needed.

“To continue to know we didn’t have to be perfect, that last couple of minutes was huge.”

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