Boys soccer blog: Region matchups set stage for big things ahead

ajc.com

Credit: GHSA Twitter

Credit: GHSA Twitter

Region matchups will take center stage for boys soccer teams across the state for the next several days, but some programs will play the waiting game for all-but-certain region title matches that follow.

Starr’s Mill, ranked No. 2 in Class 5A, will play one more 2-5A region match – against Griffin on Tuesday – before traveling to top-ranked and crosstown rival McIntosh on Friday for a possible region championship. The two Peachtree City programs have fought for supremacy in the sport for years.

“It’s pretty much no different than any other year,” said Starr’s Mill head coach Aaron Buck. “I think we each have one region match left between now and when we play each other. (McIntosh) plays Harris County, and we play Griffin. I think we should both win those and then hopefully if everything goes well, that match on April 1 will determine the region champion.”

Starr’s Mill’s approach to this season is like many of the quality teams that experienced last season end prematurely because of the pandemic: It is unavoidable to wonder what could have been, but paramount to stay in the moment while focusing on what’s taking place now.

“One thing about last year that will stay with me the rest of my career will be seeing one of the seniors -- I had him in class; we played Houston County on a Tuesday -- come to class Wednesday and say, ‘Coach, do you think I’ve played my last soccer game ever?’”

Those questions, which were posed many times across the state a year ago, were heartbreaking for programs, but the focus and experience has been beneficial this season for the Panthers.

Two players – both seniors – have carried much of the offensive burden for Starr’s Mill. Brooklyn Muccillo leads the way with 17 goals and eight assists, and Jake Eubanks has scored 12 goals with four assists.

“Brooklyn and Jake have been with the program for a while,” Buck said. “Jake started as a freshman and Brooklyn played JV as an eighth-grader and a ninth-grader, then made varsity his sophomore year. Over the last few years, they have just blossomed into really good players. Last year, we saw it with Brooklyn. He had 11 goals through 10 games as a junior. And this year, he’s like 15 goals through 12 games.”

On Tuesday, the Panthers beat Class 2A No. 5 Pace Academy 4-1. Muccillo and Eubanks each scored twice.

But the Panthers have talent all over the filed, with offensive production from 12 different players including Muccillo, Eubanks and sophomore Ricardo Leacock, who has nine goals and an assist.

For at least one program in the state, the region race has ended. Dalton, the top-ranked program in Class 6A, defeated Carrollton 4-0 Tuesday to capture the 5-6A regular-season title. The Catamounts led 1-0 at the half and continued pressure in the second half. Fabian Rodriguez scored two goals, and Fernando Guerrero and Filemon Quintero each scored one goal. Dalton will host 4A No. 1 Northwest Whitfield on Thursday and travel to Paulding County on Friday.

AJC rankings

Class 7A

1. South Forsyth

2. Alpharetta

3. South Gwinnett

4. Harrison

5. Forsyth Central

6. Lambert

7. Brookwood

8. Duluth

9. Hillgrove

10. Archer

Class 6A

1. Dalton

2. Johns Creek

3. Central Gwinnett

4. Rome

5. Lassiter

6. River Ridge

7. Sprayberry

8. Lakeside-DeKalb

9. Lakeside-Evans

10. Allatoona

Class 5A

1. McIntosh

2. Starr’s Mill

3. Clarke Central

4. St. Pius X

5. Johnson-Gainesville

6. Cross Keys

7. Woodward Academy

8. Veterans

9. North Springs

10. Eastside

Class 4A

1. Southeast Whitfield

2. Flowery Branch

3. Marist

4. Northwest Whitfield

5. East Hall

6. Jefferson

7. Chestatee

8. Columbus

9. LaGrange

10. Druid Hills

Class 3A

1. Westminster

2. Pike County

3. Oconee County

4. White County

5. Coahulla Creek

6. Richmond Academy

7. Morgan County

8. West Hall

9. Cherokee Bluff

10. Mary Persons

Class 2A

1. Lovett

2. Putnam County

3. Bremen

4. Gordon Central

5. Pace Academy

6. Thomasville

7. Jeff Davis

8. Model

9. Union County

10. Bacon County

Class A Public

1. ACE Charter

2. Towns County

3. Georgia Military

4. Armuchee

5. Dooly County

6. Social Circle

7. Lake Oconee Academy

8. Atkinson County

9. Metter

10. Portal

Class A Private

1. Atlanta International

2. Athens Academy

3. St. Anne Pacelli

4. Paideia

5. Whitefield Academy

6. Savannah Christian

7. Heritage-Newnan

8. Wesleyan

9. Fellowship Christian

10. First Presbyterian

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