Girls soccer: McIntosh faces challenging final week of regular season

The McIntosh girls soccer team, ranked No. 1 in Class AAAAA and the defending state champion, begins a rugged final week of the regular season when it hosts No. 2 Veterans on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

The Chiefs, who have won 11 state titles, including five in the past seven seasons, are 13-1-1 and have allowed just six goals this season, including two in their only loss, a 2-1 setback against Class AAA No. 1 Westminster last month. They closed out a perfect season in Region 3-AAAAA play with a 2-1 victory over fifth-ranked Starr’s Mill on Friday. 

Veterans (15-0-1), which is the Region 1-AAAAA champion, won its first 15 matches this season before settling for a scoreless draw against Pike County last week. Veterans reached the quarterfinals last year, losing to eventual state runner-up Buford, and is seeking its first state championship. 

“We are super excited for the opportunity to finish out our regular season against one of the toughest and storied programs in the state,” Veterans coach Nicole Miranda said. “I am confident in us, but at the same time want to see how we measure up. We have worked very hard this season and been successful thus far. However, we want to be battle-tested and see what areas we need to fine tune and improve upon heading into the playoffs.” 

The rest of the week won’t get any easier for McIntosh. On Thursday, the Chiefs travel to Class AAAAAAA No. 4 Milton. They’ll conclude the regular season Friday at Oak Mountain, the fourth-ranked team in Alabama’s highest classification. 

Here are some of the other big games in the final week of the regular season. All games are Tuesday unless noted: 

*Collins Hill at Peachtree Ridge: Fifth-ranked Peachtree Ridge (13-3-1) is unbeaten in region play and can clinch the 6-AAAAAAA title with a victory against No. 10 Collins Hill (11-5). A win by Collins Hill likely creates a three-way tie for first place among Collins Hill, Peachtree Ridge and third-ranked Mill Creek (12-1-1), which lost to Peachtree Ridge 3-1 in early March but beat Collins Hill 1-0 last week. Peachtree Ridge is 10-1 in its last 11 matches, losing only to Class AAA No. 1 Westminster 2-0 during that stretch. 

*Decatur at Blessed Trinity: Class AAAA No. 1 Blessed Trinity (11-1-1) has 11 victories and a draw since opening the season with a 2-1 loss to Class AAAAAAA No. 8 Walton. The Titans, who knocked off second-ranked Marist to win the Region 7-AAAA title this season, are seeking their first state championship since 2011 and sixth overall. Decatur, ranked No. 3 in Class AAAAA, is 13-1-1 overall and beat ninth-ranked Grady 2-0 last week to complete a 7-0 record in Region 6. The Bulldogs have never won a state title. 

*Lovett at Westminster: Two of the state’s top programs will meet for the Region 5-AAA title in a battle of private-school rivals. Top-ranked Westminster is 11-3-2 after a 10-0 victory over Pace Academy on Friday, and No. 2 Lovett is 10-2-4. Both teams are 6-0 in region play. Westminster won its fourth state championship in five years, and 11th overall, last season. Lovett, which has three state titles, lost to Pace Academy 3-2 in the 2017 semifinals. Westminster ends the regular season Friday at Class AAAAA No. 3 Decatur. 

*Marist at St. Pius: Third-ranked St. Pius (10-5-2) has won eight state championships in the past nine seasons and will enter the playoffs as the Region 8-AAAA champion. No. 2 Marist (14-1-1), which has won four state titles since 2008, finished second behind top-ranked Blessed Trinity this season in 7-AAAA. Still, this game between DeKalb County private-school rivals could provide a preview of the state final, as St. Pius beat Blessed Trinity in the quarterfinals and Marist in the championship game last season. 

*Milton at Roswell: These north Fulton County rivals will meet in a battle of top-10 teams in Class AAAAAAA. Fourth-ranked Milton is 12-2 overall and won the Region 5-AAAAAAA championship. No. 7 Roswell (11-3-2) is tied for second place with Walton in Region 4, and those two teams will face off on Friday in a match that will determine the No. 2 seed behind top-ranked Lassiter. Milton reached the quarterfinals last season, losing to state runner-up Grayson, and Roswell lost to Collins Hill in the second round. 

*Pope at Johns Creek (Thursday): The winner of this game between top-ranked Johns Creek (13-0-3) and No. 6 Pope (11-4-1) will be the champion of Region 7-AAAAAA. Johns Creek is unbeaten in region play. Pope’s only loss in the region came on March 29, when it was upset by Northview 1-0. The only blemishes on Johns Creek’s record are three ties against Class AAAAAAA schools North Gwinnett, South Forsyth and Roswell. The Gladiators were the state runners-up last season and are seeking their first title. 

*Girls playoff schedule: 

April 24 – First round (Classes AAAAAAA, AAAAAA and AAAAA) 

April 26 – First round (Classes AAAA, AAA, AA and A) 

May 1 – Second round 

May 4 – Quarterfinals 

May 8 – Semifinals 

May 11-12 – Championships 

The state championship games will be played at McEachern High School and Mercer University. The schedule for those games will be determined at a later date.

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