McIntosh, St. Pius, Westminster seeking 11th state titles
Here’s a look at this weekend’s girls soccer state championship matches and how the teams got there. The games will be played Friday and Saturday at McEachern High School in Powder Springs and Mercer University’s Five Star Stadium in Macon. All matches can be viewed online at the NFHS Network (subscription).
*Class AAAAAAA: Lambert vs. Grayson
When, where: 5 p.m. Saturday, McEachern High School, Powder Springs
Records, rankings: Lambert is 19-3, the No. 1 seed from Region 5-AAAAAAA and No. 1 (Eurosport rankings); Grayson is 18-3, the No. 1 seed from 8-AAAAAAA and No. 3.
Things to know: This is a rematch of the 2015 Class AAAAAA final, which Grayson won 5-0 for the second state championship in program history. Lambert reached this year’s final with a 4-0 victory over Mill Creek on Tuesday behind three goals from Madison Haugen. It was the 13th consecutive victory and eighth straight shutout for the Longhorns, who lost to Grayson 1-0 on Feb. 17. Grayson advanced to the championship game with a 1-0 victory over second-ranked South Forsyth. Amina Cuforovic scored the game’s only goal midway through the second half, and goalkeeper Brianna Tello preserved the team’s 13th shutout of the season.
*Class AAAAAA: Johns Creek vs. Harrison
When, where: 5 p.m. Saturday, Mercer University, Macon
Records, rankings: Johns Creek is 17-3-2, the No. 1 seed from Region 7-AAAAAA and No. 2; Harrison is 19-3, the No. 1 seed from 6-AAAAAA and No. 1.
Things to know: Johns Creek reached the state final with a 1-0 victory over region rival Cambridge, which lost to the Gladiators 5-0 during the regular season. Johns Creek started the season 3-2-2 but has since won 14 of 15 matches. The only loss during that stretch was 2-1 against Pope, which lost to Harrison 1-0 in the quarterfinals. The Gladiators are seeking their first girls soccer title. Harrison advanced to its fourth championship game in seven seasons with a 5-0 semifinal victory over Lee County. Isabel Heckman had a hat trick, and Megan Alyward and Kenzie Bonham added goals. Harrison won titles in 2011 and 2014 and was the runner-up in 2014.
*Class AAAAA: McIntosh vs. Buford
When, where: 5 p.m. Friday, Mercer University, Macon
Records, rankings: Buford is 18-2-2, the No. 1 seed from Region 8-AAAAA and No. 2; McIntosh is 14-6-2, the No. 2 seed from 3-AAAAA and No. 3.
Things to know: McIntosh reached the final with a 5-2 victory over Flowery Branch, the runner-up from Buford’s region. Flowery Branch lost to Buford 5-0 on March 7. McIntosh won the Class AAAAA championship last season, beating Columbus 4-0, and has won four titles in the past six seasons and 10 overall. After making four semifinal appearances in the past six seasons, Buford finally reached its first championship game with a 5-0 victory over top-ranked Whitewater, handing the Wildcats their only loss of the season. Kristen Edmond and Ava Sherman had two goals each, and Morgan Smith added a goal.
*Class AAAA: Marist vs. St. Pius
When, where: Noon Saturday, McEachern High School, Powder Springs
Records, rankings: Marist is 16-3-1, the No. 1 seed from Region 7-AAAA and No. 1; St. Pius is 20-1-1, the No. 1 seed from 8-AAAA and No. 2.
Things to know: Marist and St. Pius both rank among the top four girls soccer programs in the state in terms of state championships. St. Pius is tied for first with McIntosh and Westminster with 10, and Marist is right behind with nine. St. Pius has won four consecutive titles, while Marist’s most-recent championships came in 2013 and 2014. Marist won 2-0 when the teams met on March 28, but St. Pius has since allowed just one goal, which came in a 9-1 victory over Chapel Hill in the semifinals. Marist also has allowed just one goal in the playoffs, and that came in a 6-1 victory over Jefferson in the semifinals.
*Class AAA: Westminster vs. Pace Academy
When, where: 5 p.m. Friday, McEachern High School, Powder Springs
Records, rankings: Westminster is 19-1-1, the No. 1 seed from Region 5-AAA and No. 1; Pace Academy is 13-4-3, the No. 2 seed from 5-AAA and No. 3.
Things to know: Westminster’s Delaney Graham scored two first-half goals, including one on a penalty kick, in the Wildcats’ 4-0 victory over No. 2 Greater Atlanta Christian in the semifinals. Westminster had beaten GAC 7-0 in the regular season. The Wildcats have won the past two Class AAA championships and 10 state titles overall. Pace Academy was the runner-up in Westminster’s region this season and lost to the Wildcats 4-0 when the teams met on March 31. Pace Academy reached the championship game with a 3-2 victory over Lovett, the region’s third-place team. Pace won the Class A title in 2014 and has three championships overall.
*Class AA: St. Vincent’s vs. East Laurens
When, where: Noon Saturday, Mercer University, Macon
Records, rankings: St. Vincent’s is 19-1, the No. 1 seed from Region 2-AA and No. 1; East Laurens is 19-2-1, the No. 1 seed from Region 3-AA and No. 4.
Things to know: The winner of this game will be a first-time state champion. St. Vincent’s lost to Lovett in the 2016 AA championship game, and the Saints earned a return trip to the finals with a 5-0 victory over Lamar County. Sarah Stewart scored all five goals for the Saints, including one less than 90 seconds into the match. She has 71 goals this season. East Laurens is 15-0-1 since a 4-0 loss to Class AAAAA Statesboro on Feb. 24. The Falcons moved into the championship game with a 3-2 victory over second-ranked Social Circle in the semifinals. East Laurens lost to Pace Academy in the second round last season.
*Class A: First Presbyterian vs. Wesleyan
When, where: Noon Friday, Mercer University, Macon
Records, rankings: First Presbyterian is 22-0, the No. 1 seed from Area 2-A and No. 2; Wesleyan is 18-3-1, the No. 1 seed from Area 8-A and No. 1.
Things to know: First Presbyterian advanced to its fourth championship game in seven seasons with a 1-0 victory over Paideia. Elizabeth Nelson scored the game-winner from 25 yards out with less than seven minutes remaining. First Presbyterian joined the GHSA in the 2010-11 school year and won Class A titles in 2011 and 2012. The Vikings have allowed just one goal this season. Wesleyan reached the final for the first time in program history with a 2-0 victory over Holy Innocents’ on goals by Katia Hanger and Sutton West. It was the 14th consecutive victory for the Wolves, who have allowed just two goals in their past 10 matches.