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Westover boys, girls soccer set for state

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- Westover girls soccer coach Terri Satterfield said her team likely will be still on an emotional high heading into Friday's first-round state playoff game after winning its first GHSA Region 1-AAA crown since 2007.

The first-year coach, whose team opens the first round of state at home against Mary Persons at 6:30 p.m., said players were still so amped up after the win that they took it hard when Satterfield announced that there was no practice Thursday or Friday last week.

"They kept going, 'Are you sure we're not having practice today,' " laughed Satterfield, whose team enters state with 11-4 overall record after finishing as Region 1-AAA champs with a perfect 7-0 mark. "They are so excited, they can't wait to get back to practice. They are so motivated, they want to win like you would not believe. They want to go out with a bang."

Lady Patriots star Alison Burson, however, isn't satisfied with just a region championship -- even if it did feel great.

"(Winning region) was pretty awesome," said Burson, who is a senior goalkeeper/striker. "I hadn't won a region title in high school yet. For us to win in coach Satterfield's first year was a big accomplishment."

The Lady Patriots, while glad to accomplish the same feat as the 2007 squad, also hope not to duplicate what that team did in the state playoffs by losing in the first round.

"Our main focus now, as a team, is not to let any drama get between us," said Lady Patriots senior Omolara Okediji, who was on that 2007 team. "We're acting like sisters, and if anything happens, we're all in this together. Another key this year was coach Satterfield telling us to never underestimate anybody. That kept us focused."

Burson, meanwhile, has been able to handle a little bit of everything, playing both positions during every game. Believe it or not, she scored nine goals in a win against Dougherty and finished the regular season with 20 goals and eight saves.

"She is just phenomenal," Satterfield said of Burson, who has already signed with ABAC.

Burson will likely have to keep playing phenomenally if the Lady Patriots are going to beat Mary Persons -- a team Satterfield said "is very aggressive."

The girls got back to practice this week in preparation for Friday's state opener as Satterfield, who was recently named the Region 1-AAA Coach of the Year, noticed a common theme.

"The mood is they're nervous -- but also very excited," she said. "After practice (Wednesday), we all sat down in a circle and went around and let each one say how they felt about the game, and all I kept hearing was, 'This team is special, we want to win -- and we want to do it together as a team.' "

Satterfield, who also teaches at the school, took over the program this season without much of a soccer background. But she says she's watched her three daughters play plenty, the oldest of which, Maggie, a junior a starter on the team.

"I decided to (take the job on) because I really saw a lot of potential in these girls," the coach said. "We had over 80 girls between JV and varsity try out this year and it just told me that there was a lot of passion here at Westover for soccer and it was something I wanted to be a part of."

Satterfield said she doesn't want to give herself a grade "until after Friday," but added she's worked like crazy to make this season a memorable one.

"There's been nights when I've been up until 2 a.m., working on plays or formations," she laughed.

If Westover wins, it will host again May 6.

Meanwhile, looking back to 2007, Burson wants to keep it just that -- in the past.

"We haven't really brought that up," said Burson, who was not on that 2007 team. "(Coach Satterfield) wants us to focus on the present."

And that present included a guarantee Wednesday by the Lady Patriots' coach.

"Oh, we're going to win," she said. "It's just something I feel -- and I hope the girls feel it, too."

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NO. 3 SEED WESTOVER BOYS HIT ROAD: The Westover boys finished third in the region and will open the state playoffs today on the road at Mary Persons at 6 p.m.

With an overall record of 8-5 and 6-2 in the region, first-year coach Nick Carlisle hopes his team continues to advance.

A lot of that will depend on how well reigning Herald Player of the Year Danny Brown plays. Brown, who has 24 goals and 12 assists as both a defender and sweeper, has been the key to Westover's success all season.

"Wherever you put him on the field, he's going to make something happen," Carlisle said. "He's going to definitely make it happen. He's that good, and you can put him just about anywhere, too."

Another key will be goalkeeper Corey Walter -- a player Westover community boys coach, Greg Brown -- who is also Danny's father -- called "phenomenal" Wednesday.

"He's just so good back there," Greg Brown said. "Him and (Sherwood transfer) Peter Morton have really played well for us this season. Peter really has a leg."

Brown said the team's been loose this week heading into the playoffs, but can't help but wonder which Westover team will show up today.

"Sometimes this group can play really, really well," Greg began, "and sometimes they don't.

"We just need to (be the former today)."

Against Mary Persons, however, that's easier said than done. After all, today's opponent has had Westover's number in recent meetings.

"We've only played them in the regular season, but two years ago we tied them and then last year we lost to them," Brown said. "I still think we can match up well against them, though."

If Westover wins, it will play again May 6, most likely on the road.

Carlisle, for one, likes his team's chances to get to Round 2.

"We have a lot of players on this team who have played club soccer," Carlisle said. "That kind of experience is something you cannot replace."

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Herald sports editor Danny Aller and former staff writer Scott Chancey contributed to this report