Girls soccer blog: Georgia’s elite programs continue their dominance
The three most successful high school girls soccer programs in Georgia added to their trophy collections when the season came to an end last weekend at McEachern High School and Mercer University.
Westminster became the first girls soccer team in the state to win 13 championships when it defeated rival Lovett 3-1 in overtime in the Class AAA final Friday at McEachern. It was the Wildcats’ fifth consecutive title, tying the record set by St. Pius in 2017.
“It’s going to take me a while to process that,” Westminster coach Clark Meyer said of the five consecutive titles. “It just means that we have had five years of girls that have really earned their moment. I’m just so happy for them and the joy that they have in what happens out here.”
McIntosh of Class AAAAA and St. Pius of AAAA won their 12th championships with lopsided victories in the finals. Both teams were champions in 2017 before losing in the finals last year.
Here’s a recap of the eight championship matches:
North Gwinnett 2, Lambert 1 (North Gwinnett wins 5-4 in penalty kicks)
North Gwinnett won its first championship since 2010 and second overall with a victory against a Lambert team that came in ranked No. 2 nationally by the United Soccer Coaches. Lambert’s Faith Ferrer scored the game’s first goal with less than three minutes remaining in the second half, but North Gwinnett’s Aliah Kitchens answered 30 seconds later on a header off a free kick by Bree Barley. After a scoreless overtime, North Gwinnett missed its first penalty kick but got successful attempts from Barley, Dylan Lamberth, Katie Tatro, Kory Rodas and Kristen Wischmeier for the victory. Lambert was seeking its second title in three years.
Dacula 2, Harrison 0
Dacula scored two second-half goals to earn its first championship in girls soccer. Becky Contreras, a Kennesaw State signee, gave the Falcons the lead with her team-high 28th goal with 27:08 remaining in the match, and Kaitlyn Portillo added a goal with 12 minutes to play. Dacula (18-2) outscored its opponents 26-0 in five playoff games. The championship was Dacula’s first in any sport since the wrestling team shared the Class A title with Macon County in 1993. Harrison came up short in a bid for its fourth title in nine years.
McIntosh 7, Whitewater 0
McIntosh avenged a loss to Fayette County rival Whitewater in the 2018 final and claimed its sixth championship in nine years and its 12th overall. Katelyn Galbraith gave McIntosh the lead less than four minutes into the game, and goals by Morgan Yocom and Bailey Wagenknecht gave the Chiefs a 3-0 lead at halftime. Keara Collins’ goal less than a minute into the second half and another goal by Wagenknecht made it 5-0 with 16:11 remaining in the match, and Tariah Miller added two goals in the final 11 minutes.
St. Pius 6, Flowery Branch 0
After seeing its five-year streak of titles end last season with a loss to rival Marist in the final, St. Pius returned to the top of the podium with a dominant performance to earn its 12th state championship. Helen Cherry and Renee Lyles scored in the final five minutes of the first half to give the Golden Lions a 2-0 lead. Clare Gornowicz made it a 3-0 game when she scored less than five minutes into the second half, and Lyles added two more goals. Flowery Branch was making its first appearance in a state final.
Westminster 3, Lovett 1
Westminster beat rival Lovett in the final for the second consecutive season, winning its record-tying fifth straight state championship and its 13th overall. Talia Staude gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead with 52 seconds left in the first half, but a goal by Lovett’s Elke Gill’s early in the second half sent the game to overtime tied 1-1. Westminster’s Tori Penn and Riley Patton scored in overtime to secure the win. Westminster finished 19-2-1, with losses to Lambert and McIntosh. Lovett has won three state titles, most recently in 2016.
St. Vincent’s 5, Vidalia 0
St. Vincent’s became the second team in tournament history to win three consecutive Class AA titles, matching Walker’s feat from 2008 to 2010 when AA and A were combined in one tournament. Emma Beddow, Lizzie Horn and Emma Cowart scored to give the Saints a 3-0 lead at halftime, and Beddow and Horn each added a goal in the second half. It was the third meeting of the year between the Region 2-AA rivals – Vidalia won 2-1 on Feb. 27, and St. Vincent’s won 6-3 on April 12. Vidalia has never won a state title.
Class A (Public)
ACE Charter 2, Atlanta Classical 0
ACE Charter of Macon became the first Class A public school to capture a girls soccer state title when it won the inaugural Class A public-school state tournament (public and private schools previously competed in one combined tournament). Paige Suk gave the Gryphons the lead when she scored with 15:11 remaining in the first half, and Lauren Applebee added a goal about 10 minutes later to complete the scoring. It was the first team title in any sport for ACE Charter, playing in its first season of GHSA competition.
Class A (Private)
Wesleyan 3, Pinecrest Academy 1
Lucy Mitchell scored two first-half goals, including one just four minutes into the match, to lead Wesleyan to its second championship in three seasons. Pinecrest Academy’s Ivey Crain cut the lead to 2-1 with less than a minute remaining in the first half, but Ashley Cowart put the game away with a goal with 22:11 to play. Crain’s goal was the only one allowed by Wesleyan in four playoff games, in which the Wolves outscored their opponents 16-1. Wesleyan eliminated defending champ First Presbyterian 5-0 in the quarterfinals.
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