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Riverwood Tops Walton As Both Prepare For GHSA Championship Tournament

Riverwood's Gael Garcia (#11) and Walton's Cole Pumpian (#16) battle for ball possession

On Saturday, the Walton Raiders and Riverwood Raiders boys soccer teams met up on the pitch for the final game of the regular season for both teams. With both Walton and Riverwood already locked into No. 2 seeds for next week’s Georgia High School Association state championship tournament, Saturday’s meeting for more so a final tune up ahead of the opening round of the playoffs, as the match up was each team’s first time back in action since the final week of March.

“We were really excited for this match up. We know Walton’s a top 10 team in 7A and both of us coming off of spring break, our goal was to tune it up a little bit,” Riverwood head coach, Matt Taylor, said after Saturday’s game in which Riverwood would win 1-0. Riverwood will open up the GHSA Class 6A tournament against Carrollton on Friday and Taylor knows that regardless of the opponent, the road to a state championship will be a tough one and facing off against a team like Walton more than helps them prepare.

“We know we have a tough playoff route, but we’re going to try to make the most of it. Our backline really stood the challenge today and we’re going to battle, we’re going to battle out every game we can,” Taylor said. Coach Taylor would add that some of the takeaways from Saturday’s win included taking advantage of when they get the ball inside of the box and “attack a little bit harder”. Taylor said that his Raider team will be working on that area and more this week in preparations for Carrollton.

On the other end, Walton will begin their road to the championship on Wednesday when they take on Camden County and despite the loss to Riverwood on Saturday, Walton head coach, Bruce Wade, was able to still find the positives in the outcome. “It was a great game coming off of spring break to get the rust off,” Wade said as he joked on how some of his players may have still been on the break after watching them play. “Some of the guys struggled, some of them performed well like they should,” Wade added.

Due to some injuries for Walton, Saturday’s game also gave Wade an opportunity to give several players more than usual time, giving him an opportunity to see how they would perform against a quality opponent in Riverwood. “They proved they’re ready to step up when needed,” Wade said of some of his players, adding, “Riverwood is a great team and it’s always good to have a game with them before you go into the playoffs”. As Walton prepares for Camden County, Wade says the next few days, their focus will be being less predictable and be more creative in their attacks.


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