Eight champions crowned on first day of GHSA soccer championships

ajc.com

When Westminster beat Lovett 3-2 in the 2018-19 3A title match to win its fifth consecutive title, no one could have expected that it would be two years until the chance for the sixth.

After the long wait -- and a 7-0 victory over Greater Atlanta Christian Thursday at Five Star Stadium on the campus of Mercer University in Macon -- the Wildcats are champions again.

“To have come through a long period of uncertainty,” said Westminster head coach Clark Meyer. “And to get back to what feels like normal life, it’s just a great privilege to be able to play.”

The Wildcats led 3-0 at the half and with 20 minutes remaining in the match, a strike from sophomore Evelyn Shores put Westminster up 5-0 and the Spartans could not recover. Sophomore Allie Ross led with four goals, Sam Cohn netted two goals and Shores had one.

“We just have so much firepower and tonight was a testament to us,” Meyer said. “Allie shoots the ball as hard as any girl I have ever coached. I have spent time in practice standing in as keeper and frankly, she scares me. It hurts.”

Westminster’s leading scorer Henley Tippins did not net a goal in the victory, but crucial assists provided the help other scorers needed. According to Meyer, that is by design.

“She was frustrated she didn’t find the net tonight, but she was getting assists and that’s just kind of the team we have,” he said. “If a team tries to shut one out, then we have Allie or Sam on either side.”

The victory marked Westminster’s 14th soccer championship.

Here are the other championships from Thursday.

5A Girls: Blessed Trinity 2, St. Pius X 1

Blessed Trinity weathered and overcame an early St. Pius X goal to win its sixth state championship but first in 10 years after a 2-1 victory over the Golden Bears. The Titans pulled even on a goal by Delaney Daws with 17:41 left in the first half. Blessed Trinity took the lead on a goal from Ella McGlynn with 26:20 left in the match and the Golden Bears could not answer.

4A Girls: North Oconee 3, Marist 2

North Oconee entered the state championship match knowing it faced an opponent which has won 10 state championships and three of the past eight 4A titles. But the Titans wanted their first title more. Marist led 1-0 early in the match but the Titans pulled even on penalty kick. North Oconee took a 2-1 lead at 26:50 and expanded with lead with another goal with 23 minutes left. Marist scored with 18 minutes left but time ran out.

2A Girls: Lovett 3, Bremen 0

Lovett’s victory over Bremen marked the program’s fourth state championship and first since 2016, also in Class 2A. A right-to-left bending shot from Sophie Elve put the Lions up 1-0. A short kick-in from Madison Walker put Lovett in total control in the second half. Lesley Lewallen also added a goal for Lovett.

4A Boys: Southeast Whitfield 4, East Hall 0

Southeast Whitfield scored three unanswered goals in the second half to pull away and capture its second state championship with a 4-0 victory over East Hall. The Raiders led 1-0 entering the second half before scoring early to take a 2-0 lead. Southeast Whitfield scored with 34:57 and 20:06 left to put the contest out of reach. The Riaiders also won the 2017 4A state championship.

3A Boys: Coahulla Creek 3, Westminster 1 (OT)

Coahulla Creek made the most of the overtime period, scoring two of its three goals to overwhelm and upset Westminster 3-1. Westminster entered the match as the three-time defending champions who were trying for their 15th state soccer championship while Coahulla Creek had never won a state championship.

5A Boys: McIntosh 2, Johnson-Gainesville 1

Redemption. That is what this victory is to the Chiefs. That motivation earned the storied program its eighth soccer championship after a 2-1 victory over Johnson-Gainesville. Both Chiefs goals game in the final 12 minutes after trailing most of the match. McIntosh scored with 13:16 left to tie the game and the game-winner with 1:14 left sealed it. It was Johnson-Gainesville that beat McIntosh in the 2018 state championship, thwarting the Chiefs chance at a title defense. McIntosh also won back-to-back championships in 2013-14.

2A Boys: Pace Academy 5, Lovett 3 (PK’s)

After going scoreless in regulation and through the overtime period, Pace Academy won its second state championship with a 5-goal performance in penalty kicks. Pace had not won a state title since 2006. Lovett has seven soccer titles but had not won a state championship since 2003.

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