Girls soccer blog: 4 defending champs return for shot at another title

Four defending champions and eight programs seeking their first titles will be among the 16 teams competing this week in the GHSA girls soccer state championship games.

The state finals will be held Tuesday through Friday at McEachern High School in Powder Springs and Mercer University in Macon, beginning at 5 p.m. Tuesday with Class A Private (at McEachern) and Class A Public (at Mercer).

Westminster of Class 3A will be going for its record seventh consecutive championship when it faces Region 5 rival Greater Atlanta Christian at 5 p.m. Wednesday at McEachern. The top-ranked Wildcats have won 13 straight games since their only loss, 3-0 against Blessed Trinity on March 15, and they have steamrolled their way through the playoffs, outscoring East Forsyth, Southeast Bulloch, Jackson and Cherokee Bluff by a combined score of 41-1. Westminster has won 14 state championships overall, the most of any school since the GHSA began sanctioning the sport in 1992.

Second-ranked Greater Atlanta Christian, which lost to Westminster 6-2 in region play on March 3, won state titles in 2012, 2014 and 2015. The Spartans have not allowed a goal in four playoffs games, all of which were against top-10 opponents. GAC lost to Westminster 7-0 in the 2021 final.

Defending Class 2A champion Lovett also will be facing a rematch against a region opponent when it meets Pace Academy at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Mercer. Top-ranked Lovett won 4-0 when the teams played on March 29 at Lovett. The Lions, who also won state titles in 2001, 2005 and 2016, have outscored their opponents 37-0 in the postseason. No. 3 Pace Academy, which has won three championships, most recently in 2014, cruised through the first three rounds before knocking off No. 2 Bremen 3-2 in the semifinals.

West Forsyth, the defending Class 7A champion, entered the tournament as the No. 10-ranked team and the No. 2 seed from Region 6 (behind top-ranked Denmark) but has worked its way back to the finals. The Wolverines opened the playoffs with a 6-1 victory at home against Collins Hill before winning road games against No. 2 Brookwood, No. 4 Dunwoody and Alpharetta.

The Wolverines will play at 5 p.m. Friday at McEachern against ninth-ranked Mill Creek, which is appearing in its first championship game. The Hawks’ advanced to the final with a victory over Walton on penalty kicks in the semifinals. Sloan Spees scored the Hawks’ only goal in regulation on a header with 16 minutes remaining, then Mill Creek outscored Walton 4-3 on penalty kicks.

No. 2 Holy Innocents’ will go for its second consecutive and third overall title when it faces top-ranked Pinecrest Academy in the Class A Private final at 5 p.m. Tuesday at McEachern in a rematch of last year’s final, which Holy Innocents’ won 2-1. Though not in the same region, the teams met during the 2022 regular season, with Pinecrest Academy winning at home 1-0. Pinecrest is seeking its first championship.

Two classifications are assured of having first-time champions as Chamblee will meet Midtown in the Class 5A final, and Social Circle will face Commerce in Class A Public.

Chamblee is trying to become the first public school from DeKalb County to win a championship, and Midtown would be the first traditional Atlanta Public Schools team to win a title (Atlanta Classical, a charter school that serves students in the APS district, won Class A Public in 2021).

Region 8-A Public teams Social Circle and Commerce will be facing off for the third time this season. They split the regular-season meetings, with each team winning at home. No. 2 Commerce won 5-4 on Feb. 7, and No. 1 Social Circle won 3-1 on March 10.

The other two championship games will match No. 2 Cambridge against No. 3 Lassiter in Class 6A and No. 2 Marist against No. 3 Jefferson in Class 4A. Marist has won 10 championships (fourth-most in GHSA history), most recently in 2018, and Lassiter won Class 6A in 2016. Cambridge and Jefferson are seeking their first championships.

Here is the championship game schedule:

Class 7A

(5 p.m. Friday at McEachern)

(R6 #2) West Forsyth vs. (R8 #1) Mill Creek

Class 6A

(5 p.m. Friday at Mercer)

(R7 #1) Cambridge vs. (R6 #1) Lassiter

Class 5A

(5 p.m. Thursday at McEachern)

(R5 #1) Chamblee vs. (R6 #1) Midtown

Class 4A

(5 p.m. Thursday at Mercer)

(R8 #2) Jefferson vs. (R6 #1) Marist

Class 3A

(5 p.m. Wednesday at McEachern)

(R5 #1) Westminster vs. (R5 #2) Greater Atlanta Christian

Class 2A

(5 p.m. Wednesday at Mercer)

(R6 #2) Pace Academy vs. (R6 #1) Lovett

Class A Private

(5 p.m. Tuesday at McEachern)

(R5 #1) Holy Innocents’ vs. (R6 #1) Pinecrest Academy

Class A Public

(5 p.m. Tuesday at Mercer)

(R8 #2) Commerce vs. (R8 #1) Social Circle