Girls soccer blog: Playoffs begin Thursday in 6A, 4A, 2A

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First-round action in the girls soccer state tournaments continues Thursday when Classes 6A, 4A and 2A begin their playoffs.

At least two of those classifications will crown new champions this season. St. Pius, the reigning champ in 4A, moved up to 5A in the GHSA’s most recent reclassification, and St. Vincent’s has moved down to A Private after winning the previous three titles in 2A.

Dacula of 6A is back in the playoffs as a No. 3 seed after winning the title in 2019, the last time the tournament was held, because of the pandemic.

Here’s a look the classifications that begin play Thursday. All rankings are provided by Score Atlanta.

Class 6A

*No. 1 team: Johns Creek

*2019 champion: Dacula

*Overview: Johns Creek has been agonizingly close to its first state title, losing in the state final in 2017 and the semifinals the past two seasons. The Gladiators appear ready to make another run at it, entering the tournament with the No. 1 ranking and 14-1 record. They have allowed only eight goals this season, five of which came during their only loss, against Class 7A No. 3 West Forsyth last week. If the Gladiators fall short of the title, it might go to Region 7 rival Cambridge (10-3-3), which is ranked No. 3 and lost to Johns Creek 3-2 on March 9. No. 2 Buford has won 16 consecutives games since a 1-1 tie against Wesleyan on Feb. 5.

*Worth noting: Dacula (8-10), two years removed from its first championship, is unranked and the No. 3 seed from Region 8. The Falcons opened the season with three consecutive losses to 7A schools and lost three of their final four games in the regular season.

*First-round matchups:

(R4 #3) Tucker at (R1 #2) Lee County

(R2 #4) Effingham County at (R3 #1) Grovetown

(R6 #3) Kennesaw Mountain at (R7 #2) Cambridge

(R8 #4) Habersham Central at (R5 #1) Dalton

(R7 #3) Chattahoochee at (R6 #2) Lassiter

(R5 #4) Rome at (R8 #1) Buford

(R1 #3) Valdosta at (R4 #2) North Atlanta

(R3 #4) Evans at (R2 #1) Glynn Academy

(R8 #3) Dacula at (R5 #2) Carrollton

(R6 #4) Allatoona at (R7 #1) Johns Creek

(R2 #3) Bradwell Institute at (R3 #2) Heritage-Conyers

(R4 #4) Westlake at (R1 #1) Houston County

(R3 #3) Lakeside-Evans at (R2 #2) Richmond Hill

(R1 #4) Northside-Warner Robins at (R4 #1) Lakeside-DeKalb

(R5 #3) Paulding County at (R8 #2) Lanier

(R7 #4) Riverwood at (R6 #1) Pope

Class 4A

*No. 1 team: Marist

*2019 champion: St. Pius

*Overview: Marist won the championship in 2018 but was knocked out by St. Pius four times in the past five seasons, including three times in the state final. The War Eagles won’t have that hurdle after the departure of St. Pius to 5A and are the favorites this year. Still, the road to its 11th state title won’t be an easy one for Marist, which faces potential matchups with No. 4 Flowery Branch (second round), No. 3 Perry (quarterfinals) and No. 2 Northwest Whitfield (semifinals) before even reaching the final. An intriguing first-round game matches No. 10 Southeast Whitfield and No. 8 Druid Hills, with the winner possibly facing No. 5 North Oconee.

*Worth noting: Marist is the only team in the 4A field that has won a state championship. Flowery Branch came the closest most recently, losing to St. Pius 6-0 in the 2019 final. Columbus, currently ranked No. 9, lost to Flowery Branch in the 2019 semifinals.

*First-round matchups:

(R4 #3) Spalding at (R1 #2) Bainbridge

(R2 #4) Shaw at (R3 #1) Islands

(R6 #3) Arabia Mountain at (R7 #2) Heritage-Catoosa

(R8 #4) Madison County at (R5 #1) Luella

(R7 #3) Southeast Whitfield at (R6 #2) Druid Hills

(R5 #4) Mount Zion-Jonesboro at (R8 #1) North Oconee

(R1 #3) Cairo at (R4 #2) Rutland

(R2 #1) Columbus bye

(R8 #3) Jefferson at (R5 #2) Hampton

(R6 #4) Mays at (R7 #1) Northwest Whitfield

(R2 #3) Troup at (R3 #2) New Hampstead

(R4 #4) West Laurens at (R1 #1) Thomas County Central

(R2 #2) LaGrange bye

(R1 #4) Westover at (R4 #1) Perry

(R5 #3) Fayette County at (R8 #2) Flowery Branch

(R7 #4) Ridgeland at (R6 #1) Marist

Class 2A

*No. 1 team: Bremen

*2019 champion: St. Vincent’s

*Overview: The move by St. Vincent’s to Class A Public opens the door for top-ranked Bremen, which is seeking to become the first public school to win a 2A championship. The Blue Devils are 15-2, with losses to 7A North Paulding (7-1) and 5A Northgate (3-2). In their other 15 games, they have given up just three goals, all of which came against higher-classification teams. Bremen lost to St. Vincent’s 2-0 in the 2019 semifinals. Like Marist in 4A, Bremen could be tested on the way to the final, with No. 2 East Laurens, No. 3 Lamar County and No. 7 Pace Academy on the Blue Devils’ half of the bracket.

*Worth noting: Not many private schools remain in 2A, but two that do are likely to be title threats. No. 4 Lovett and No. 7 Pace Academy have won three championships each. Pace won its most recent title in 2014, while Lovett won in 2001, 2005 and 2016.

*First-round matchups:

(R4 #3) Johnson-Augusta at (R1 #2) Thomasville

(R2 #4) Swainsboro at (R3 #1) Lamar County

(R6 #3) Elite Scholars at (R7 #2) Fannin County

(R8 #4) Elbert County at (R5 #1) Bremen

(R7 #3) Gordon Central at (R6 #2) Pace Academy

(R5 #4) Haralson County at (R8 #1) Rabun County

(R1 #3) Berrien at (R4 #2) Oglethorpe County

(R3 #4) Washington County at (R2 #1) East Laurens

(R8 #3) Banks County at (R5 #2) Callaway

(R6 #4) Therrell at (R7 #1) Model

(R2 #3) Jeff Davis at (R3 #2) Bleckley County

(R4 #4) Westside-Augusta at (R1 #1) Fitzgerald

(R3 #3) Dodge County at (R2 #2) Toombs County

(R1 #4) Cook at (R4 #1) Putnam County

(R5 #3) Temple at (R8 #2) Union County

(R7 #4) Coosa at (R6 #1) Lovett

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