Soccer State Championship Recaps at Mercer University
Class AAAAA Boys: McIntosh 2, Clarkston 1 (2OT)
The McIntosh Chiefs won the school’s sixth boy’s state title in double-overtime on a corner kick with 1:21 remaining at Mercer University in Macon after being down 1-0 early.
“It means more than I can express,” said McIntosh head coach Bunky Colvin. “We have played in a lot of championship games but right now, I feel like this is the greatest comeback we have ever had.”
Clarkston, who was trying for its first state title, took a 1-0 lead at the 25-minute mark in the first half off a Lionel Tourodo strike from 30 yards but held the lead for only a few minutes. At the 14:12 mark, McIntosh senior Dylan Keysar scored on header from a corner kick to tie the game.
“We have taken almost 100 corner kicks and struggled all year,” explained Colvin. “We spent the last month practice after practice working to get better. In the quarterfinals we scored two, in the semis we scored one and it was the difference tonight.
With 1:21 remaining in the second overtime McIntosh faced yet another corner kick and executed it to perfection. Jacob Donaldson hit a low-arching shot from the left corner perfectly into the box. After a bounce or two, the ball found the net off of the foot of Logan Brown from just a few yards.
“I just knew I was going to finish it,” explained Brown. “Before the game I told my grandmother that I was going to score for her and I did. Jake Donaldson hit it to me perfectly.”
Class AAAAA Girls: McIntosh 2, Buford 0
McIntosh, the defending state champions, will add another trophy to the case after moving past Buford.
Senior forward Taylor Malasek led the way with both goals. The Lady Chiefs have now won back-to-back titles, three of the last four titles and five of the last seven titles. Buford was vying for their first.
“What concerned me about Buford was knowing how hungry they were,” said McIntosh coach Marcia Clark. “They have never had a state championship. I told the girls that Buford has a chance to make history but you have a chance to do, well, what you’re supposed to do. So which is the biggest motivator?”
Neither teams seemed organized in the opening minutes of the game, and both were searching for a rhythm. After an uneventful first half, McIntosh hit its stride and mounted an attack. The Lady Chiefs attacked offensively, adding to their already smothering defense.
“Our defense did not let anyone in,” explained Clark. “I don’t know that they have been shut out all year, even by 7A teams.”
They had not as the Chiefs held Buford scoreless for the first time this season. The game, however, could have been a blowout as Taylor Malasek found the crossbar twice within four minutes.
The first came at the 31:15 mark on a right to left try from 15 yards. The second came at the 27:58 mark where she hit the bar on a penalty-kick and then knocked the rebound into the net, but the goal was disallowed due to early movement by a teammate. Two minutes later, sophomore forward Tariah Miller also found the cross bar on a 5-yard try.
“I do not like the bar, it is my personal enemy. It is like a magnetic pull towards it but I am trying to get away from it,” laughed Malasek.
At the 9:55 mark, Malasek got away from it and scored with a 15-yard rocket from the left of the box to the upper right corner of the net. Just six minutes later, she scored again from 25 yards out to put the game away.
“Most defenses just have no answer for (Malasek),” explained Clark. “They did a great job staying with her today but eventually, you are going to slip up and let her in. She is a senior, she is a captain, and is one of the hardest working players on the team. Her work ethic and attitude of ‘I am not quitting, this is going to happen,’ makes me really proud of her.”
Class A Boys: Whitefield Academy 2, Walker 1
Whitefield Academy rallied back from a 1-0 deficit with two second-half goals to clinch the program’s first state title.
“I cannot believe that we are where we are right now,” said Whitefield coach Steve Hellier following the game. “This has just been and unbelievable ride and there are so many things that could have happened and kept us from this, but here we are state champions.”
The teams remained scoreless as the second half opened and Walker struck first with a goal by freshman Nick Rath just two minutes in. Whitefield Academy readjusted their second-half game plan following the Rath goal and successfully stole the momentum with a pair of goals just minutes apart.
“The adjustment we made was a disaster because they came out and scored within two minutes of the game. So then, we adjusted back to the original lineup that we had,” explained Hellier.
The tying goal came at the 31-minute mark on a penalty kick from the coach’s son, senior William Hellier.
“It is incredible to see the growth of this program,” said William Hellier. “From not having a team to having a team our freshman year that went 4-12 and now state champions. I am so proud of these guys.”
The game-winning goal came at the 29:30 mark on a give-and-go from Hellier to West Peterson and Walker could not answer in the final 30 minutes.
Walker had scoring opportunities throughout the second half but Whitefield’s junior goalkeeper John Matherne, who had seven saves on the day, kept the one-goal lead intact.
Class A Girls: Wesleyan 4, First Presbyterian 1
Wesleyan outscored First Presbyterian Day 3-0 in the second half of Friday’s Class A final to clinch the victory and the program’s first-ever title.
“We are so excited,” said Wesleyan head coach Lacy Gilbert after clinching the program’s first-ever title. “This has been a long time coming. It is my 20th year and 16th as a head coach and to be able to win is just amazing. I am so proud of our girls, especially our seniors. They worked hard and made adjustments in the second half. I am so pleased at how they played. Our seniors set the stage for our program when they came in as freshmen and to get to this point is great.”
The Wolves started the scoring at the at the 9:37 mark in the first half with a goal from Lucy Mitchell. First Presbyterian answered just four minutes later on a penalty-kick goal by Kate Patterson and the teams remained tied at 1 entering the second half.
Just five minutes into the second half, Sutton West scored on a perfectly executed give-and-go from Mitchell from just inside the box to push the lead to 2-1.
“We always talk about that you only focus on what you can control,” said Mitchell. “In this game, each individual focused on what they had control over and we used that to get the win.”
With 19 minutes left in the game, First Presbyterian was called for a handball in the box which led to a T.J. Anderson goal off of a penalty kick. The frustrations continued for First Presbyterian with nine minutes left in the game as two players, Kate Patterson and Karsten Herron, were ejected for a rough play and dissent, respectively.