Three defending champions enter semifinals with hopes for a title berth

Credit: GHSA

Credit: GHSA

There are three defending champions, six top-ranked teams and programs returning to greatness with matches in May. And then there are teams vying for elusive championship berths after the quarterfinal and semifinals rounds have sent them home in the past.

Welcome to the semifinals.

The defending champions wanting a chance to repeat are Class 4A Johnson-Gainesville, Class A Division I Paideia and Class A Division II Christian Heritage.

The top-ranked teams are Class 6A No. 1 River Ridge, 5A No. 1 McIntosh, 4A No. 1 Johnson-Gainesville, 2A No. 1 Model, A Division I No. 1 Atlanta International and A Division II Georgia Military.

The best matchups

-- Class 6A No. 6 North Atlanta at No. 1 River Ridge: Junior Noah McLure and senior Kingston Courts lead River Ridge with 15 goals each while junior Chris Asbridge adds 12 goals, senior Anthony Ruiz has nine goals and senior Petyon Manwaring has scored eight goals. Junior Lathan Johnson (14 goals), sophomore Mile Glover (10 goals) and junior Max Rode (10 goals) lead North Atlanta.

-- Class 5A Midtown at No. 1 McIntosh: Midtown entered the playoffs unranked despite last year’s runner-up appearance and 2-0 loss to Dalton. Midtown has beaten Eastside 2-1, Centennial 4-3 and Eagle’s Landing 8-1 in the quarterfinals. McIntosh is two wins away from the program’s ninth state title after moving past Dutchtown 6-0, Cross Keys 2-1 and defending champion Dalton 1-0 in the quarterfinals.

-- Class A Division I No. 3 Whitefield Academy at No. 1 Atlanta International: Whitefield has one state title – 2017 in Class A – and to have a chance at a second, the team faces a tall task in the semis. Sophomore Roman Lindsay leads Whitefield with 14 goals and senior Will Paxton has 10 goals. Whitefield has beaten Dalton Academy 3-2, Barrow 2-0 and Lamar Count 6-0 in the playoffs. Top-ranked Atlanta International is led by Finn Jacobson, who’s scored 50 of Atlanta International’s 115 goals to go with 14 assists.

Class A Division II No. 1 Georgia Military at No. 4 Christian Heritage: Georgia Military has won two titles in back-to-back seasons in 2019 and 2021 (Covid cancelled the 2020 season). The Bulldogs are led by senior Brian Sherwood, who has 24 goals and sophomore Tommy Carty, who has 21 goals. Senior Owen McCabe adds 12 goals and freshman James Portwood has scored 10 goals. Christian Heritage, the defending champions, has beaten Chattahoochee County 5-1 and Echols County 4-3 in penalty kicks after ending regulation tied at 1-1.

See the full semifinals schedule below. All matches are Wednesday.

Class 7A

No. 7 Archer at Campbell

Kennesaw Mountain at No. 2 Discovery

Class 6A

No. 3 Sprayberry at Glynn Academy

No. 6 North Atlanta at No. 1 River Ridge

Class 5A

Midtown at No. 1 McIntosh

No. 10 Decatur at No. 4 Cass

Class 4A

Northwest Whitfield at No.1 Johnson-Gainesville

Holy Innocents’ at No. 2 Westminster

Class 3A

No. 6 Bremen at No. 3 Hebron Christian

No. 2 Oconee County at No. 5 Columbus

Class 2A

Fellowship Christian at No. 2 Toombs County

Providence Christian at No. 1 Model

Class A Division I

No. 8 Mount Vernon at No. 5 Paideia

No. 3 Whitefield Academy at No. 1 Atlanta International

Class A Division II

No. 9 Atlanta Classical at No. 5 Atkinson County

No. 1 Georgia Military at No. 4 Christian Heritage