Ranked teams rarely lose in the first round in lacrosse, especially after the GHSA expanded all classifications to a 32-team playoff field in 2019. However, two lost in the opening round this year.
In the upper-left quadrant, the No. 5 Walton Raiders lost 11-10 to the unranked Buford Wolves.
The Raiders came from Area 4, where they were 7-1 — a record that was good for a three-way tie with Lassiter and Walton for first place. However, they came out of the area’s predetermined tiebreaker system as a No. 3 seed, and that pitted them against a tough Buford team on the road.
Buford, a No. 2 seed from Area 1, improves to 12-6 and will play No. 7 Harrison (12-4, Area 3 No. 1 seed) next. It’s worth noting that the Wolves are ranked ahead of Walton in the MaxPreps computer-generated rankings for all classifications, with Buford No. 10 and Walton No. 27.
The Raiders were not only defending champions from 2019 — there was no 2020 postseason — but they also had the state’s top-ranked player, James Gurr, who signed with Ohio State and is No. 29 in the Inside Lacrosse national rankings for the Class of 2021.
Walton finished 11-7 on the year.
The other ranked team to fall was No. 9 Pope (11-8), a No. 2 seed from Area 4. The Greyhounds lost 14-6 to the unranked Centennial Knights (8-6), a No. 3 seed from Area 1. Like in the case of Buford, it’s hard to call the Knights’ win an upset. Centennial also had the higher computer ranking on MaxPreps, coming in at No. 12 in 6A-7A ahead of No. 19 Pope.
Centennial looks to continue its Cinderella story against the No. 2 Roswell Hornets (15-4, Area 2 No. 1 seed), who won their opening round match against unranked Carrollton 23-2.
The top-ranked Lambert Longhorns (17-1, Area 6 No. 1 seed) beat Brookwood 20-0 in their first round matchup. They’re ranked No. 19 nationally on MaxPreps. In Round 2 they’ll host unranked Etowah, which just beat Lakeside-Evans 23-2.
Etowah is 12-5 and the No. 3 seed from Area 5.
The unranked Walton Lady Raiders went on the road as a No. 3 seed from Area 4 and edged No. 4 Johns Creek 11-10.
The Lady Raiders are 9-7-1, and the road for them only gets harder with No. 3 Hillgrove in Round 2. The Lady Hawks are 16-2 and the No. 1 seed from Area 3. They beat Cambridge 15-8 in their playoff opener.
Johns Creek, the No. 2 seed from Area 1, finished 12-6.
All other ranked teams advanced, and there’s only one matchup between ranked teams in Round 2: The No. 8 Alpharetta Lady Raiders (12-6) at the No. 4 Chattahoochee Lady Cougars (15-4, Area 1 No. 1 seed). It’s a rematch from Feb. 9, when Chattahoochee won 14-11 in what was the season opener for both teams.
The top-ranked Milton Lady Eagles (17-0), who won it all in 2019, opened with a 14-0 shutout of East Coweta as the No. 1 seed from Area 2. They’re ranked No. 5 in the country on MaxPreps. Next they’ll host unranked Lassiter (11-7, Area 4 No. 2 seed).
At the time of this writing, the GHSA had yet to list a winner for the Holy Innocents’ at Richmond Hill match, though Holy Innocents has reported an 18-6 win on its official school website.
There were no upsets in Round 1, and all ranked teams advanced.
Top-ranked Blessed Trinity beat Effingham County 15-0 and will now host unranked McIntosh (9-6).
There are three top 10 matchups in Round 2:
- No. 10 Wesleyan Wolves (11-5, Area 1 No. 3 seed) at No. 2 Westminster Wildcats (11-4, Area 2 No. 1 seed)
- No. 5 Lovett Lions (5-7, Area 2 No. 4) at No. 7 Marist War Eagles (10-5, Area 1 No. 2) • This is a rematch from Feb. 20, when Lovett won 6-5
- No. 9 King’s Ridge (13-5, Area 5 No. 2) at No. 8 Starr’s Mill (13-6, Area 7 No. 1)
Nothing sticks out more from this bracket than the way-too-soon Round 2 matchup of No. 3 Fellowship Christian at No. 2 Starr’s Mill.
In a differently aligned bracket, perhaps they meet in the championship. While some may find it unfortunate that two of the state’s best must meet so early in the playoffs, the winner could have an advantage over the field in terms of momentum and confidence.
Starr’s Mill and Fellowship Christian won their opening round matchups by a combined score of 38-0.
Also in Round 2, top-ranked Blessed Trinity (11-2, Area 5 No. 1 seed) hosts No. 7 McIntosh (13-4, Area 7 No. 2 seed). The Lady Titans enjoyed a bye in Round 1 and McIntosh beat Union Grove 15-4.
In another top 10 matchup, No. 5 Lovett Lady Lions (14-3) hit the road to play No. 10 North Oconee (16-2), the No. 1 seed from Area 4. The Lady Lions beat Columbus 16-0 in Round 1 as a No. 2 seed from Area 2. North Oconee beat Decatur 20-13 in its playoff opener.