Four matches at each of two locations – Mercer University in Macon and McEachern High School in Powder Springs – wrapped up the 2019 GHSA Soccer State Championships on Saturday. The class AAAAAA, AAAAAAA boys and girls finished their seasons at McEachern and the AAAAA boys and girls, AA girls and AAAA boys took to the field for their title matches at Mercer.
AAAAAAA girls: North Gwinnett 1 (5), Lambert 1 (4)
North Gwinnett took home its first state title in nine years and second in school history following a thrilling finish in penalties against Lambert. A back-and-forth contest produced a tie game at 0-0 as the first half ended. With just 2:26 left in the match, Lambert’s Madison Haugen crossed the ball to Faith Ferrer, setting her up for the go-ahead goal. North Gwinnett was quick to answer with a goal of its own, equalizing the game just 29 seconds later on a header from Aliah Kitchens. After 1:30 of scoreless play the game was sent into overtime where neither team could pull ahead, forcing a finish by penalties. There the Bulldogs missed the first penalty but went on to outscore the Longhorns 5-4, ending their perfect season to claim the Class AAAAAAA state title.
AAAAAAA boys: Lambert 2, Lakeside-DeKalb 1
In the state’s highest classification, the Lambert Longhorns defended their state title with a 2-1 outing against Lakeside-Dekalb. At the half, the score remained 0-0 in large part to the stellar performance by Lambert’s senior goalkeeper Chris Smith who had made several acrobatic saves. With nine minutes left in the match, Hayden Fontana shot the ball from nearly 15 yards out, but the ball was blocked by Lakeside’s goalie. Tyler Nadiak was ready for the ricochet and sent the ball through to the back of the net to put the Longhorns up 1-0. Less than a minute later, Jerod Spetseris managed to put a shot past Smith to tie the game. With just over a minute remaining, Fontana launched a shot off the post, but sophomore Yeonsung Lee was ready for the rebound and sent in the go-ahead goal. The Longhorns maintained their lead for the remainder of the match to claim their third state soccer title in school history.
AAAAAA girls: Dacula 2, Harrison 0
Dacula won its first-ever girls soccer championship after scoring two goals in the second half. The victory capped a flawless run through the bracket as the Falcons didn’t allow a single goal in the five matches. Becky Contreras, a Kennesaw State commit, gave the Falcons the lead on a score with 27:08 left in the second half. With 12:01 left in the match, Kaitlyn Portillo, a Georgia Gwinnett College commit, scored to push the lead to two goals and give Falcons their first state title. Harrison was going for its fourth soccer title.
AAAAAA boys: Dalton 4, Gainesville 1
Dalton won its fifth state championship and first since a streak of three-straight from 2013-15 after moving past Gainesville. The Catamounts took a 1-0 lead with 18 minutes left before intermission on a header goal by freshman Yahir Paez off a high-lofted set-up. Tony Saldana pushed the lead after he converted a corner kick on a header with 13 minutes left before intermission. Eight minutes later, Saldana found the net again after going unchecked on a free kick. Manny Prieto’s goal with 25:07 left in the match pushed the lead to 4-0. Gainesville got on the board on a goal from Divin Mabruki with 12:34 remaining.
AAAAA girls: McIntosh 7, Whitewater 0
McIntosh won its 12th girls soccer title, having taken three of the last four and six of the last eight after beating rival Whitewater. The Chiefs scored three goals in first half and then adding four in the second 45 minutes to overwhelm the Wildcats. Junior defender Katelyn Galbraith scored first just 3:38 into the first half to put McIntosh ahead to stay. Junior Morgan Yocum added a score with 11:54 left before intermission and with 4:59 left, freshman Bailey Wagenknecht netted a goal to make it 3-0 at intermission. Keara Collins scored with 39:16 left in the game to make it a four-goal advantage. Wagenknecht found the net again with 16:11 left in the match, Tariah Miller put one in with 10:54 left and then score the final goal of the game three minutes later.
AAAAA boys: McIntosh 3, Starr’s Mill 2
McIntosh won its seventh state championship after moving past local rival Starr’s Mill. Starr’s Mill senior Noah Pavel put the Panthers up 1-0 at 15:51 in the first half. The Chiefs pulled even with 16 minutes later on a score from senior defender Baba Agbaje. McIntosh took the lead into intermission on a goal from Jack Gentry at a 30:06 mark. Agbaje put the Chiefs up 3-1 on a goal with 20:20 left in the match. Starr’s Mill pulled within a goal on a score from senior Ryan Shanahan with 13:11 left but the Chiefs were able to keep the Panthers at bay in the final minutes to seal the victory. McIntosh also won the championship in 2017.
AA girls: St. Vincent’s 5, Vidalia 0
The St. Vincent’s Saints won their third consecutive Class AA state soccer title with a commanding 5-0 shutout over Vidalia. After six minutes of play, sophomore Emma Beddow’s free kick from almost 20 yards out found the back of the net to put St. Vincent’s on the board. Beddow continued to pace the field, setting up a long pass to junior Lizzie Horn who put the ball past the keeper for the Saint’s second goal of the match. In the 34th minute, Horn dished Emma Cowart the ball, setting her up to score St. Vincent’s third unanswered goal of the first half. The goals kept coming for the Saints in the second half, starting with a second goal from Beddow at the 50th minute. Horn capitalized on a pass from Beddow in the 63rd minute to increase the lead to 5-0 and end the scoring spree.
AAAA boys: Oconee County 1, Upson-Lee 0
The Oconee County soccer team solidified itself in school history as the Chiefs defeated Upson Lee 1-0 to take home their first state soccer title in school history. After 33 minutes of scoreless play, senior Owen Hallauer nearly scored the go-ahead goal but bounced the ball off the post. The deciding goal came with 26:10 left in the first half when Hallauer followed up on a few shots on goal and put through the only goal of the championship match. The Chiefs shutout performance gave Upson Lee its only loss of the season.
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