Westminster, Mill Creek represent state well at Smoky Mountain Cup
Several school districts were on spring break last week, but it was business as usual for many of the state’s top girls soccer teams, some of which brought home impressive victories over the past seven days.
Most notable was Class AAA No. 1 Westminster, which went 2-0-1 and beat the nation’s top-ranked team in the Smoky Mountain Cup in Gatlinburg, Tenn.
Westminster (12-1-1) opened play with a 2-2 tie against Edmond North (Okla.) on Friday. The Wildcats then came back for a 4-0 victory over Padua Academy (Del.), the No. 14-ranked team in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll, in what Wildcats coach Clark Meyer said was “the finest soccer I have seen this team play in 20 years.”
The Wildcats capped off the event Saturday with a 5-3 victory over South Carolina’s J.L. Mann, the No. 1 team in the NSCAA rankings.
“I don’t know how we managed to function on such tired legs,” Meyer said. “It was J.L. Mann’s first match of the tournament and our third, but it was a huge help that we have a deep bench and I was able to significantly rest starters the night before. The girls were simply heroic. We fell behind 1-0 in the first half but managed to win a PK to tie it up before the half. We were all so tired that no one really said anything at halftime. But we went back out and quickly opened a big lead and then managed to outlast them as they attempted a comeback. Immediately after the game, I think they were happier that I gave them Monday off than they were about the victory, but now it’s starting to sink in. We finally lived up to our potential. Now we just need to avoid a letdown against some very good teams in the next two weeks.”
Junior Delaney Graham scored five goals in the three matches and freshman Tori Penn scored three. Sophomore Talia Staude had two assists.
Westminster (No. 14 in the NSCAA poll) will conclude the regular season with games against Pope (Thursday), Greater Atlanta Christian (April 18) and Marist (April 21) before beginning the playoffs on April 25. The Wildcats will be going for their fourth state championship in five years and 11th overall.
Here are some of Georgia’s other top teams that had victories of note:
*Mill Creek: The Hawks, 11-4 overall but unranked in Class AAAAAAA, also participated in the Smoky Mountain Cup and were the only team to finish without a loss or a tie in the 10-team event. Mill Creek beat Southeast Whitfield 6-1 and Huntsville (Ala.) 7-0 on Friday and Grissom (Ala.) 2-0 on Saturday. Jenna Miller, Madison Hatfield, Marissa Harkins and Kali Zmistowski scored two goals each in the three victories. Mill Creek is in second place in Region 6-AAAAAAA behind top-ranked Peachtree Ridge.
*Wesleyan: The Wolves picked up their biggest victory of the season Thursday and extended their winning streak to seven when they beat Marist 1-0 in a battle of No. 1-ranked teams. Class A Wesleyan (11-3-1) got the only goal by Lucy Mitchell on an assist from T.J. Anderson. Goalkeeper Izzy Larsen posted the Wolves’ third consecutive shutout and seventh of the season. Class AAAA Marist (10-2-1) has lost two of three matches since moving to the top of the rankings after a victory over previous No. 1 St. Pius on March 28.
*Grayson: The eighth-ranked Rams (11-3) extended their winning streak to nine Friday when they beat No. 9 Parkview 2-1 in a matchup of two Class AAAAAAA powerhouses. Grayson and Parkview (10-4-1) have combined to win nine of the past 20 championships in the highest classification, including 2007, when they tied for the state title. Grayson most recently won a title in 2015, and Parkview won its eighth in 2013. Both teams are undefeated in region play.
*First Presbyterian: The No. 2 Vikings (15-0) remained the only unbeaten team in the Class A rankings with three victories in the past week by a combined score of 21-0. First Presbyterian beat Manchester 10-0 and Pike County 1-0 last week and Dooly County 10-0 on Monday. Emma Lako and Elizabeth Nelson scored three goals each against Dooly County. The Vikings have outscored their opponents 104-1, allowing their only goal in a 3-1 victory over eighth-ranked Stratford Academy on March 23.