Girls soccer blog: Playoffs begin Tuesday in 5 of 8 classes

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Westminster will be seeking its sixth consecutive state championship (14th overall) and McIntosh and St. Pius will be aiming for their 13th overall titles when the girls soccer state playoffs begin this week.

The tournaments for Classes 7A, 5A, 3A, A Private and A Public will get under way Tuesday, and the action will start Thursday for 6A, 4A and 2A.

All eight teams that won championships in 2019 – the last time the tournament was held, because of the pandemic – made the field this season, but only one (Westminster of Class 3A) enters the playoffs ranked No. 1.

Here’s a look at the classifications that begin play Tuesday. All rankings are provided by Score Atlanta, unless noted. Previews for the other classifications will be posted Thursday.

Class 7A

*No. 1 team: Lambert

*2019 champion: North Gwinnett

*Overview: Teams from Gwinnett and Forsyth have won five of the past seven state titles in the highest class, and expect more of the same this year as the five top-ranked teams – No. 1 Lambert, No. 2 Mill Creek, No. 3 West Forsyth, No. 4 Brookwood and No. 5 Norcross – come from those two counties. Lambert has won 10 consecutive matches, outscoring its opponents 50-3 in that stretch. Mill Creek is 11-0 and has allowed just three goals this season. However, don’t overlook Harrison, which has won three state championships since 2011, including the 2017 Class 6A title before moving up in reclassification.

*Worth noting: Reigning champion North Gwinnett is unranked and just 8-7-3 overall, but the Bulldogs are the No. 2 seed behind undefeated Mill Creek in Region 8. Mill Creek’s 2-1 win over the Bulldogs on March 23 was its closest game of the regular season.

*First-round matchups:

(R4 #3) Grayson at (R1 #2) Lowndes

(R2 #4) Pebblebrook at (R3 #1) Harrison

(R6 #3) Denmark at (R7 #2) Norcross

(R8 #4) Peachtree Ridge at (R5 #1) Roswell

(R7 #3) Archer at (R6 #2) West Forsyth

(R5 #4) Etowah at (R8 #1) Mill Creek

(R1 #3) Tift County at (R4 #2) Parkview

(R3 #4) Hillgrove at (R2 #1) East Coweta

(R8 #3) Collins Hill at (R5 #2) Alpharetta

(R6 #4) Forsyth Central at (R7 #1) Dunwoody

(R2 #3) Newnan at (R3 #2) Walton

(R4 #4) South Gwinnett at (R1 #1) Camden County

(R3 #3) North Paulding at (R2 #2) Campbell

(R1 #4) Colquitt County at (R4 #1) Brookwood

(R5 #3) Milton at (R8 #2) North Gwinnett

(R7 #4) Discovery at (R6 #1) Lambert

Class 5A

*No. 1 team: Blessed Trinity

*2019 champion: McIntosh

*Overview: The Class 5A field includes two reigning champions. McIntosh won its sixth championship in nine years when it took the 5A title in 2019. St. Pius earned its ninth title in 11 years when it won 4A in 2019 but has since moved up in classification. Both are legitimate threats to win again this season, but the favorite is top-ranked Blessed Trinity, which also moved up from 4A. The Titans are 16-1-1, losing to Westminster (4-2 on Feb. 25) and tying Lambert (1-1 on March 2). Blessed Trinity beat McIntosh 2-0 when the teams met on March 9. The Titans have won five state championships, most recently in 2011 in Class 2A.

*Worth noting: Fayette County schools McIntosh, Starr’s Mill and Whitewater have won nine of the past 10 state championships in their classification – McIntosh in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2019; Starr’s Mill in 2010 and 2015; and Whitewater in 2018.

*First-round matchups:

(R4 #3) Ola at (R1 #2) Ware County

(R2 #4) Whitewater at (R3 #1) Woodward Academy

(R6 #3) Jackson-Atlanta at (R7 #2) Calhoun

(R8 #4) Clarke Central at (R5 #1) St. Pius

(R7 #3) Cartersville at (R6 #2) Villa Rica

(R5 #4) Northview at (R8 #1) Greenbrier

(R1 #3) Warner Robins at (R4 #2) Jones County

(R3 #4) Tri-Cities at (R2 #1) McIntosh

(R8 #3) Jackson County at (R5 #2) Chamblee

(R6 #4) North Springs at (R7 #1) Blessed Trinity

(R2 #3) Northgate at (R3 #2) Forest Park

(R4 #4) Eagle’s Landing at (R1 #1) Veterans

(R3 #3) Creekside at (R2 #2) Starr’s Mill

(R1 #4) Wayne County at (R4 #1) Union Grove

(R5 #3) Decatur at (R8 #2) Eastside

(R7 #4) Cass at (R6 #1) Grady

Class 3A

*No. 1 team: Westminster

*2019 champion: Westminster

*Overview: No team in any classification is a bigger favorite than Westminster, which could win a state-record sixth consecutive title and 14th championship overall. The Wildcats are 16-0, allowed just six goals during the regular season, and have an impressive resume that includes convincing victories over state powers McIntosh (8-0), Blessed Trinity (4-2), Whitewater (9-0), West Forsyth (3-1), Greater Atlanta Christian (5-1), St. Pius (4-0), Marist (3-1), Parkview (10-0) and Lovett (2-0). Westminster is the only school that has ever won a Class 3A championship (first played in 1995) that is a member of 3A this season.

*Worth noting: If Westminster fails to run the table, the title is likely to go to a first-time winner. Greater Atlanta Christian is the only other team in the top 10 that has won a state championship. The Spartans were Class 2A champions in 2012, 2014 and 2015.

*First-round matchups:

(R4 #3) Harlem at (R1 #2) Tattnall County

(R2 #4) Crisp County at (R3 #1) Southeast Bulloch

(R6 #3) Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe at (R7 #2) Cherokee Bluff

(R8 #4) East Jackson at (R5 #1) Westminster

(R7 #3) White County at (R6 #2) Ringgold

(R5 #4) Redan at (R8 #1) Oconee County

(R1 #3) Long County at (R4 #2) Richmond Academy

(R3 #4) Windsor Forest at (R2 #1) Jackson

(R8 #3) Monroe Area at (R5 #2) Greater Atlanta Christian

(R6 #4) Coahulla Creek at (R7 #1) Lumpkin County

(R2 #3) Mary Persons at (R3 #2) Savannah Arts

(R4 #4) Thomson at (R1 #1) Pierce County

(R3 #3) Liberty County at (R2 #2) Pike County

(R1 #4) Appling County at (R4 #1) Morgan County

(R5 #3) Sandy Creek at (R8 #2) Stephens County

(R7 #4) North Hall at (R6 #1) Adairsville

Class A Private

*No. 1 team: Holy Innocents’

*2019 champion: Wesleyan

*Overview: Holy Innocents’ only championship was a shared title with Savannah Country Day in the 2A/A class in 2006, and this is likely the Golden Bears’ best chance since then to bring home a trophy. Top-ranked Holy Innocents’ is 13-1 and has won 10 consecutive matches since a 3-1 loss to Class 7A Campbell on Feb. 25. Another team to watch is undefeated First Presbyterian, which won championships in 2011, 2012 and 2018. The Vikings are ranked No. 6 by Score Atlanta but No. 3 by Eurosport Scoreboard. Reigning state champion Wesleyan is ranked No. 5 but has a tough road, drawing a first-round matchup with No. 2 Athens Academy.

*Worth noting: St. Vincent’s is perhaps the wild card in the class. The Saints won the past three championships in 2A before moving down in reclassification. They are 10-0-1 and ranked No. 8 but have yet to play a team from outside the Savannah area.

*First-round matchups:

(R4 #3) St. Anne-Pacelli at (R1 #2) Stratford Academy

(R2 #4) Landmark Christian at (R3 #1) St. Vincent’s

(R6 #3) Lakeview Academy at (R7 #2) Mount Paran Christian

(R8 #4) Loganville Christian at (R5 #1) Holy Innocents’

(R7 #3) Walker at (R6 #2) Fellowship Christian

(R5 #4) Wesleyan at (R8 #1) Athens Academy

(R1 #3) Mount de Sales at (R4 #2) Trinity Christian

(R3 #4) Aquinas at (R2 #1) Paideia

(R8 #3) George Walton Academy at (R5 #2) Hebron Christian

(R6 #4) Pinecrest Academy at (R7 #1) North Cobb Christian

(R2 #3) Eagle’s Landing Christian at (R3 #2) Calvary Day

(R4 #4) Heritage-Newnan at (R1 #1) First Presbyterian

(R3 #3) Savannah Country Day at (R2 #2) Whitefield Academy

(R1 #4) Deerfield-Windsor at (R4 #1) Brookstone

(R5 #3) Atlanta International at (R8 #2) Tallulah Falls

(R7 #4) Christian Heritage at (R6 #1) Mount Pisgah Christian

Class A Public

*No. 1 team: Commerce

*2019 champion: ACE Charter

*Overview: Regions 1, 4 and 5 were not able to send four teams to the playoffs this season because several of their members were unable to field teams, so there will be seven teams that receive byes in the first round. Those teams include top-ranked Commerce, which is 18-0 and has outscored its opponents 184-5. The Tigers will open the playoffs next week with a second-round game against Crawford County or fourth-ranked Atlanta Classical. Other teams receiving first-round byes and advancing to Round 2 include second-ranked Social Circle, No. 7 Armuchee, Johnson County, Treutlen, Wheeler County and Dublin.

*Worth noting: ACE Charter, the 2019 champion, is unranked and enters the tournament at 5-10 overall but as a No. 1 seed after winning three of four games in Region 7. Nine of ACE Charter’s 15 games were against higher-classification teams.

*First-round matchups:

(R4 #3) Johnson County bye

(R2 #4) Echols County at (R3 #1) Screven County

(R6 #3) Drew Charter at (R7 #2) Georgia Military

(R8 #4) Towns County at (R5 #1) Chattahoochee County

(R7 #3) Crawford County at (R6 #2) Atlanta Classical

(R8 #1) Commerce bye

(R4 #2) Treutlen bye

(R3 #4) Claxton at (R2 #1) Irwin County

(R8 #3) Lake Oconee Academy at (R5 #2) Manchester

(R6 #4) Trion at (R7 #1) ACE Charter

(R2 #3) Lanier County at (R3 #2) Portal

(R4 #4) Wheeler County bye

(R3 #3) McIntosh County Academy at (R2 #2) Atkinson County

(R4 #1) Dublin bye

(R8 #2) Social Circle bye

(R6 #1) Armuchee bye

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