McIntosh girls advance in AAAA

In a game that could have been much more one-sided on the scoreboard, McIntosh broke through with a late first-half goal and held off visiting South Forsyth 3-1 on Friday in the Class AAAA girls state quarterfinals.

McIntosh, which has appeared in two of the past three state finals in AAAA, won for the sixth consecutive game.

The Lady Chiefs (16-4-1) got little to show for a dominating first half, peppering South Forsyth goalie Anna Hardin with shot after shot and coming away empty, twice hitting the right post.

“We didn’t get discouraged,” McIntosh coach Marcia Clark said. “We kept on fighting and seeking goals.”

In one 10-second sequence midway through the first half, Hardin made a punch save on a shot by McIntosh’s Gabby Seiler, then deflected a rebound shot and smothered another to turn away a threat.

It was enough to keep South Forsyth pondering an upset on the road against a clearly superior team.

“Bad things can happen when you get in that situation,” Clark said.

The Lady Chiefs, who fired 32 shots to South Forsyth’s four, kept the ball in the South Forsyth end of the field the vast majority of the game and motivated by their close state final loss a year ago, stymied South Forsyth’s attacks.

“We’re a young team, and I think our kids came out a little nervous,” South Forsyth coach Tom Braun said. “McIntosh is a really good squad, and we tried to make some adjustments at halftime. But we missed a trap and miscommunicated. They pushed the ball through for one goal. A good team is going to capitalize on your mistakes.”

Seiler broke through in the 25th minute, taking an entry pass inside the 18-yard box and beating Hardin with a shot to the upper left area of the goal.

“It was nerve-racking,” Seiler said. “I felt like we were dominating the game. We definitely want to win state. We’ve had that goal since the beginning of the year.”

Katie Cameron gave McIntosh some breathing room in the 45th minute, fielding a corner kick from Laura Higgason and burying the shot for a 2-0 edge.

After a pair of fouls occured in less than a minute, Higgason was awarded a penalty kick and buried it for the final McIntosh goal for a 3-0 lead.

Rachel Shah missed a chance to score in the 63rd minute for South Forsyth (14-7). She won the race to a loose ball at the end line with a chance at an open goal, but her shot from the left rolled past the goal.

Shah broke through in the 76th minute, getting free inside the 18-yard box and beating backup McIntosh goalie Sydney Holstad.