Boys soccer blog: Several defending champions positioned to repeat

Teams across the state will begin competition April 24-26 in the first round of the GHSA boys state soccer championships, where several defending champions are hoping to repeat.

Here's a look at how the defending champs are positioned:

-- Class AAAAAAA: Top-ranked Lambert won the Class AAAAAAA title last season with a 3-2 victory against South Forsyth. The victory marked the second boys soccer title for the Longhorns after its Class AAAA championship in 2012. Lambert is 15-1-1 this season after losing to North Gwinnett on penalty kicks April 9. Lambert responded with victories against Forsyth Central (2-0), West Forsyth (3-1) and Denmark (5-0) and is playing to form as it heads into its first-round match against Rockdale County next Wednesday.

-- Class AAAAAA: Defending champion No. 3 Chattahoochee (12-2-0) will be looking for the third consecutive AAAAAA title and fourth overall (2011 in AAAA) as it heads into its first-round game against Osborne. Chattahoochee won a decisive 2-1 match against Cambridge last season to win the title. The Cougars are the No. 2 seed from Region 7 and have one more regular-season game remaining.

-- Class AAAAA: Johnson-Gainesville (14-2-0), the top seed from Region 8, won its first-ever boys soccer title last season with a 1-0 victory against McIntosh. The Knights are ranked fifth this season and will face Region 5, No. 4 seed Arabia Mountain next Wednesday. The Knights have won eight consecutive games since losing to Class AAA No. 2 Greater Atlanta Christian 1-0 on March 8.

-- Class AAAA: No. 8 Northwest Whitfield (10-4-2) earned its first boys soccer championship last season with a 3-2 victory against Chestatee. The Bruins have struggled in the last five games, going 1-2-2. Northwest Whitfield, the Region 6, No. 2 seed, will face Marist, the Region 7 No. 3 seed, in the first round.

-- Class AAA: No. 1 Westminster (15-1-1) enters the upcoming tournament as the team to beat. The two-time defending champion Wildcats are ranked first and pursuing their 14th boys soccer title. Last season, Westminster beat Calhoun 1-0 for its second consecutive AAA crown. The Wildcats have won titles in 1966, 1967, 1976, 1982, 1983, 2001, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2017 and 2018. It’s still undecided who Westminster, a No. 1 seed, will face in the first round.

-- Class AA: Defending champion Benedictine (12-5-0) moved up in class to AAAm where it’s ranked sixth, so AA is wide open. The classification's front-runners are top-ranked Coosa, No. 2 Pepperell, No. 3 Putnam County, state runner-up and fourth-ranked Harlem and No. 5 Lamar County.

-- Class A (public and private): No. 3 Paideia (10-3-1) won the Class A title with a 2-0 victory against No. 5 Atlanta International last season. But the classification will hold Class A-Public and Class A-Private tournaments to allow public schools their own event. In the final four of last year’s Class A tournament, only private schools remained – Athens Academy, Atlanta International, Whitefield Academy and Paideia. The public and private tournaments each will feature 16-team brackets.

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