So what’s at stake when the GHSA boys soccer season ends this week with eight state championship games split across four days at three different locations?
Sixteen teams have taken different journeys to the championship matches. There are the familiar -- defending champions and playoff stalwarts returning to late-season greatness. And there are the uncharted -- programs trying for first championships after benefitting from the reclassification cycle or programs making historic runs.
McEachern’s Cantrell Stadium will host Classes 6A (Friday), 4A (Thursday), 2A (Wednesday) and A Division II (Tuesday). Mercer’s Five Star Stadium will host Classes 3A (Wednesday) and A Division I (Tuesday), and Duluth will host Classes 5A (Thursday) and 7A (Friday).
Continuing form from last season’s championship runs, the defending champions remaining are Lassiter (6A vs. River Ridge), Johnson-Gainesville (from 5A to 4A vs. Westminster) and Atlanta International (from A Private last season to A Division I vs. Paideia).
The most storied program is 4A finalist Westminster, a team with 14 state championships including the inaugural GHSA soccer title in 1966 and a defense in 1967. The Wildcats won championships in 1976, 1982, 1983, 2001, 2006 and 2007 before winning three consecutive from 2011 to 2013 and again from 2017 to 2019.
It’s worth noting that Westminster’s girls – which has 15 state championships -- are also competing in the 4A title match.
Three other programs have boys and girls teams playing for titles -- Walton (7A), Oconee County (3A) and Paideia (A Division I). And there are four programs competing for first-ever state championships – Christian Heritage (A Division II), Providence Christian (2A), Tattnall County (2A) and River Ridge (6A).
In Class 7A, the Walton boys will play three-time champion Lambert, which won championships in 2012, 2018 and 2019. Walton has six state championships – 1986, 1995, 2002, 2006, 2008 and 2011.
In Class 6A, two-time winner and defending champion Lassiter (1996 and last season) will play River Ridge, which tries for the program’s first championship. In Class 5A, Dalton has won seven championships and will face Midtown, which is looking for its first.
In Class 4A, Johnson-Gainesville, the 5A defending-champion, will face Westminster, a former 3A program which moved up in class. Johnson won titles in 2018 and last season.
In Class 3A, Oconee County won its only championship in 2019, and its opponent, Coahulla Creek, is another program playing for its second title, won in 2021.
In Class 2A, a first-time champion will emerge. Providence Christian and Tattnall County will try to win each program’s first championship.
In Class A Division I, defending-champion Atlanta International has two titles (2015 and last season) and will face four-time champion Paideia, which won in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2018.
In Class A Division II, two-time champion Georgia Military – 2019, 2021 – will play Christian Heritage, which tries for the team’s first championship.
Boys soccer championships
5 p.m. – A-Division 2 girls (Towns County vs. Aquinas)
7:30 p.m. – A-Division 2 boys (Christian Heritage vs. Georgia Military)
5 p.m. – A-Division 1 girls (Mt. Vernon vs. Paideia)
7:30 p.m. – A-Division 1 boys (Atlanta International vs. Paideia)
5 p.m. - 2A girls (Fellowship Christian vs. Athens Academy)
7:30 p.m. - 2A boys (Providence Christian vs. Tattnall County)
5 p.m - 3A girls (Oconee County vs. Bremen)
7:30 p.m. - 3A boys (Oconee County vs. Coahulla Creek)
5 p.m. - 4A girls (North Oconee vs. Westminster)
7:30 pm - 4A boys (Johnson-Gainesville vs. Westminster)
5:00 pm - 5A girls (Greenbrier vs. Chamblee)
7:30 p.m. - 5A boys (Dalton vs. Midtown)
5 p.m. - 6A girls (Roswell vs. Marist)
7:30 p.m. - 6A boys (Lassiter vs. River Ridge)
5 p.m. - 7A girls (Denmark vs. Walton)
7:30 p.m. - 7A boys (Walton vs. Lambert)