Staff Photos: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith. Salem's Chelsey Reese, 9, and Sonam Brahmbhatt of Rockdale go after the ball in Friday's game.
CONYERS -- Rockdale's Tiffany Morris scored 17 seconds into Friday's game against Salem on Friday, but the Lady Bulldogs' captain was just getting started.
Morris recorded a hat trick and Rockdale built a two-goal lead, then hung on for a 3-2 victory over the Lady Seminoles at Reid Stadium.
With the game tied at 1-1 with 31:33 remaining, Morris' initial shot was short of the goal, but she hustled to the ball, which was left unattended, and blasted a shot past Salem keeper Sydni Booker to put the Bulldogs up 2-1.
Morris gave Rockdale the insurance it would need when she scored with 22:58 left on a breakaway to make it 3-1.
Salem got to within 3-2 in the 28th minute when Bria Mosley scored, but Rockdale's defense held off a late charge as keeper Landy Zepeda made two of her 15 saves.
"We felt fairly comfortable with a two-goal lead, but it can disappear fast," first-year Rockdale coach Daniel Meador said. "Salem worked very hard and they made it hard on us in the end. Any win is a big win (and) it was a team win today, definitely a team win. (I'm) very proud -- outstanding effort."
"I'm really happy," said Morris. "Even though we're having a tough season, it feels good to win it. That was a really tough game, it's really good."
Rockdale stunned the visiting Lady Seminoles in securing the lead right away. Off the opening kickoff, Morris got free in Salem territory and floated a goal over Booker's head for a 1-0 cushion with 39:43 left.
Salem got the equalizer less than 10 minutes later when Ana Buenrostro beat Zepeda with 30:46 to play in the first half to tie it at 1-1. Salem spent much of the first 40 minutes on Rockdale's end and had a number of chances to score.
Zepeda stymied Meghan O'Loughlin's rebound attempt in the second minute and Mariel Smith hit the left upright two minutes later. Paige King hit the crossbar with 28:15 left and Zepeda made five saves over a 21-minute stretch.
Rockdale's only other big scoring chance of the half came early when Layne Jackson knocked away Morris' shot attempt.
"We worked the ball around. I was pleased with our all-around effort and thankful for all their hustle," said Meador. "I definitely feel like we're going to continue to improve. We're learning; we're a young team."
The Salem boys won 3-1 in the nightcap, thanks to goals by three different players.
After a scoreless first half, Darien Queen had a beautiful goal with 36:09 to play in the game to give the Seminoles a 1-0 lead. Christian Colin scored in the 29th minute to make it 2-0, but Rockdale cut the deficit to one goal when Salvador Barrera beat Salem keeper Kai Uchimura on a penalty shot with 3:35 left in the game.
Salem sealed the victory when Francisco Delgado scored with 13 seconds left.