Girls soccer blog: Top-ranked teams rolling along but now face tougher tests

The eight top-ranked teams and five No. 4 seeds are among the 64 girls soccer teams that will compete in the quarterfinal round of the state playoffs Monday night.

The eight No. 1 teams – Denmark of Class 7A, Buford of 6A, Chamblee of 5A, North Oconee of 4A, Westminster of 3A, Lovett of 2A, Pinecrest Academy of A Private and Social Circle of A Public – have cruised through the first two rounds, outscoring their opponents 121-0. All have played two matches except Pinecrest Academy, which received a first-round bye.

The only close call was Denmark’s 1-0 second-round victory against Parkview, which lost 2-0 to the Danes 11 days earlier in the teams’ final game of the regular season. Denmark got the game’s only goal on a header by Jordyn Crosby off a free kick from Elise Nystrom about six minutes in the game.

The match was the final one at Parkview for coach Judson Hamby, who was hired as Athens Academy’s head coach for the 2022-2023 school year. Hamby, who began coaching at Parkview in 2007, compiled a record of 270-55-4 with five of the school’s nine state championships. Hamby will replace Steve Stewart, who will retire at the end of the current school year after 22 years at Athens Academy.

Denmark (19-0) is No. 1 nationally among spring girls teams in the most recent United Soccer Coaches rankings.

The competition for all of them will get tougher in the quarterfinals, where seven of the eight favorites will play at home against teams ranked in the top six of their classification. Denmark will face No. 3 Walton; Buford will take on No. 6 Chattahoochee; Chamblee will host No. 3 McIntosh; North Oconee will meet No. 6 Heritage-Catoosa; Westminster faces No. 4 Jackson; Lovett matches up with No. 6 Lamar County; and Pinecrest Academy will meet No. 3 Wesleyan.

Social Circle will host unranked Metter.

The remaining No. 4 seeds are North Paulding, River Ridge, Northgate, Atlanta International and Metter.

The biggest surprise of the groups is Metter of Region 3-A Public. The Tigers were 2-6 at one point this season but have won five of their past six matches. They also received a break in the first round, in which they would’ve played a first-place team but instead received a bye as Region 1 did not send teams to the playoffs.

The other fourth seeds are more familiar names. North Paulding is 12-5-1 coming out of a strong Class 7A region. Its five losses came against top-10 teams by a total of six goals. River Ridge is ranked No. 9 in Class 6A. Northgate of Class 5A was a state champion as recently as 2013 and makes frequent deep runs in the playoffs. And Atlanta International, playing in the toughest region in A Private, was a semifinalist last season.

Here are the quarterfinal matchups:

Class 7A

(R8 #2) Peachtree Ridge at (R5 #1) Alpharetta

(R6 #2) West Forsyth at (R7 #1) Dunwoody

(R3 #1) Walton at (R6 #1) Denmark

(R3 #4) North Paulding at (R8 #1) Mill Creek

Class 6A

(R7 #4) River Ridge at (R2 #1) Richmond Hill

(R6 #2) Pope at (R7 #1) Cambridge

(R7 #3) Johns Creek at (R6 #1) Lassiter

(R7 #2) Chattahoochee at (R8 #1) Buford

Class 5A

(R2 #1) McIntosh at (R5 #1) Chamblee

(R2 #4) Northgate at (R7 #1) Blessed Trinity

(R5 #2) St. Pius at (R6 #1) Midtown

(R5 #3) Decatur at (R8 #1) Jackson County

Class 4A

(R8 #2) Jefferson at (R5 #1) Luella

(R8 #3) Madison County at (R7 #1) Northwest Whitfield

(R7 #3) Southeast Whitfield at (R6 #1) Marist

(R7 #2) Heritage-Catoosa at (R8 #1) North Oconee

Class 3A

(R2 #1) Jackson at (R5 #1) Westminster

(R4 #1) Morgan County at (R7 #1) Cherokee Bluff

(R2 #3) Mary Persons at (R5 #2) Greater Atlanta Christian

(R7 #2) Lumpkin County at (R8 #1) Oconee County

Class 2A

(R2 #1) Jeff Davis at (R5 #1) Bremen

(R6 #2) Pace Academy at (R7 #1) Fannin County

(R3 #1) Lamar County at (R6 #1) Lovett

(R1 #1) Fitzgerald at (R8 #1) Union County

Class A Private

(R2 #1) Paideia at (R5 #1) Holy Innocents’

(R5 #4) Atlanta International at (R4 #1) Brookstone

(R5 #2) Wesleyan at (R6 #1) Pinecrest Academy

(R1 #1) Stratford Academy at (R8 #1) Athens Academy

Class A Public

(R8 #2) Commerce at (R3 #2) Claxton

(R8 #3) Towns County at (R7 #1) ACE Charter

(R3 #1) Screven County at (R6 #1) Atlanta Classical

(R3 #4) Metter at (R8 #1) Social Circle